Yesterday, eyes filled with sorrow fixed upon me as I stood before them. It was the second funeral among the same group of friends within a three week span.I prayed the Spirit, whom Jesus called the Comforter, would speak to and heal their hearts.

My mission was to fulfill the admonition of 1 Thessalonians 4:18. Here we are told to “comfort one another” (NASB) or “encourage one another” (NIV). The word used in this passage means to come along side of, to help, to console, to encourage, to strengthen, to comfort.

As I stood before the family I was well aware that I was not alone. There were more than 100 people gathered in the room and they were there to fulfill the same mission – to partner with me in this comforting. Many more had come and gone and others were yet to step into the lives of those experiencing loss.

When one of your friends is going through the death of a loved one, you may struggle with how to help them. Here are a few simple ways that you can comfort and encourage.

  • Be available. Having friends and family near can mean a great deal.
  • Be willing to sit in silence.
  • If you don’t know what to say – say that.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Let your friends express their feelings (even bitterness and anger) but don’t press if they don’t feel like talking.
  • Don’t use cliches or tell people that time heals all wounds. Avoid the phrase, “I know how you feel.”
  • Appropriate human touch such as holding a hand, offering a shoulder to lean on, or giving a hug can be reassuring
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one and share memories and stories if they want to.
  • Don’t be afraid to grieve. It’s OK to cry with them.
  • Remember, this is about them – not about you.

If you have any suggestions about how to comfort someone at the death of a loved one, share it with us in the comment section below.

Grace and Peace,


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