Here are some steps expressing sympathy…
Give him/her something to eat like a plate of sandwiches, honey baked ham or something else… hand it to them in person, The most important part is to give a hug.
Cleanup the place for them..the living room, bedroom and yes the bathroom too.
Help them making a list of all their sympathy gifts, who gave what, and offer to help write thank you cards.
Offer a big hug and let them cry on your shoulder… and don’t tell them “everything will be alright”.
Take the kids to the zoo, bowling or the movies or the other place for their choice
Help them make a “to-do” list for the coming week.
Try to take the bereaved person out for a walk in the fresh air. Let him express his heartly feelings and don’t ever interrupt.
Tell them that you are bringing over a spaghetti dinner one night, complete with salad and garlic bread.
If you feel that Bereaved Friend is “losing it” and unable to cope or function, or using drugs or too much alcohol to cope, urge them to get professional help, and help them find the resources. (Books, support groups, counseling).
You can also help him doing the simple house hold work like cutting and trim the lawn. Rake the leaves. Wash the car, help him making a grocery list, then go do the shopping for them.
Even if you think that you have helped him by some way or another or “been there for them”, a written letter or note of condolence can also be a helpful and comforting gesture.
You can also Send or deliver in person a thoughtful sympathy gift.
You can Sit them down to help pay the bills and balance the checkbook.
(Later in bereavement): Take your friend out to dinner or a movie. Don’t abandon them because you might feel a little awkward. Bereavement takes a long time. Be patient and let your friend know you will be there for the long haul. Never tell them you think it is time for them to move on. Grief is personal and each person has her own private timetable for her “griefwork”.
Just remember ….Although he may not express his thanks to you right now, your friend will always remember you were there to help them weather the storm.