107 Questions to Ask Someone Who Lost a Loved One

When someone we care about loses a loved one, it’s tough to know what to say. You might worry about making things worse, especially if you’ve never been through it yourself. What’s important is just to be there for them, but sometimes, we still struggle to find the right words.

Everybody deals with loss in their own way, and there’s really no wrong thing to feel. Sometimes, the simplest way to help is to show up and listen. If you’re trying to figure out what to ask to show you care, I’ve put together a list of questions. They’re a way to start a conversation and let your friend know you’re there for them in this challenging time. Let’s get started.

Condolences and Empathy

  1. Would you like to talk about what you loved most about them?
  2. What has been the most comforting thing you’ve experienced since your loss?
  3. Is there a particular memory with them that brings you comfort?
  4. How can I best honor your feelings during this time?
  5. Can I sit with you in silence, just being here for support?
  6. Would it help to talk about the qualities you miss the most?
  7. What has brought you the slightest bit of peace in this tough time?
  8. How can I help carry the burden of this grief with you?
  9. Would sharing stories about your loved one be welcome?
  10. Do you find solace in hearing about their impact on others’ lives?
  11. Is there a specific aspect of their legacy you’d like people to remember?
  12. Can I help you celebrate their life in a way that feels right to you?
  13. Are there words or sentiments that you’ve found particularly comforting?
  14. How has this loss changed your perspective on everyday moments?
  15. Would reflecting on their life lessons provide any comfort to you?
  16. Do you have a favorite saying or quote from your loved one that resonates with you now?
  17. Is there anything you wish for more people to understand about your grief?

Support and Assistance

  1. What kind of tasks can I take off your hands right now?
  2. Can I assist you in any way with the memorial arrangements?
  3. Are there any household chores or errands I can help with?
  4. Would it be helpful if I bring over some meals for the next few days?
  5. Can I help in informing others about the passing and the services?
  6. Are there any specific needs or wishes of the family that I can attend to?
  7. Do you need someone to watch over the kids or pets while you have some personal time?
  8. Is there a way I can aid in preserving your loved one’s memories or legacies?
  9. May I accompany you to any appointments or meetings you dread facing alone?
  10. Would setting reminders for any necessary tasks be helpful to you?
  11. Can I reach out to others to coordinate a support schedule for you?
  12. Do you need assistance with paperwork or any legal matters related to the loss?
  13. Is there any unresolved business of your loved one that I can help finalize?
  14. Would it be beneficial to check in with you regularly about practical needs?
  15. Are there charities or causes you’d like me to help support in their honor?
  16. Can I be there for you as a sounding board for decisions you might be struggling with?
  17. Would it comfort you if I helped with planning any memorial tributes?
  18. Can I offer support with transportation for family or friends arriving for services?

Memories and Celebration

  1. Would you like to share a photo of your loved one and tell me about that day?
  2. Is there a song or piece of music that reminds you of them?
  3. How do you hope your loved one will be remembered by all?
  4. Can you tell me about a tradition they loved that you plan to carry on?
  5. Is there a funny or cherished story that captures the essence of who they were?
  6. Would creating a memory book or collage be something you’d find meaningful?
  7. What is your fondest memory that you shared together?
  8. Are there particular places you visited together that hold special memories for you?
  9. Do you have a keepsake of theirs that holds a lot of sentiment?
  10. How did your loved one inspire people in their life?
  11. What were some of their most admirable qualities?
  12. Would participating in one of their favorite activities be a comforting tribute for you?
  13. Is there a particular holiday or anniversary you’d like to honor in a special way?
  14. How would you describe their impact on your life?
  15. Is there something they taught you that you will always carry with you?
  16. What’s a lesson they left behind that’s been ingrained in your heart?
  17. Were there any dreams or aspirations they had that you wish to fulfill in remembrance?
  18. Do you feel there’s a message they would have wanted to pass on to others?

Respecting the Grieving Process

  1. How has your process of grieving been unique to you?
  2. Do you need more time alone, or do you prefer to have someone nearby?
  3. Are there certain days that are harder for you where you might need extra support?
  4. Would you like to set any boundaries around discussing your loved one for the time being?
  5. Is there anything specific you would like others to know about your needs right now?
  6. Would you like me to help communicate to others how you’d like to be approached about your loss?
  7. Are there any helpful coping strategies you’ve found that you’d be willing to share?
  8. Do you find it more comfortable to express your grief in any particular setting or time?
  9. How can I honor the pace at which you want to move through your healing?
  10. Is there a type of support that you feel you’re missing in your grieving journey?
  11. Can I help create a space that allows you to grieve in the way you need to?
  12. How can I recognize and be mindful of the tougher moments you face?
  13. Are there any rituals or ceremonies that you find particularly helpful in your grief?
  14. Do you need to change our usual routines to better accommodate your healing process?
  15. Is there an aspect of the grieving process you wish more people were aware of or understood?
  16. What do you need most from your friends and family at this time?
  17. How do you prefer to navigate conversations about your loved one?
  18. Are you open to seeking additional support through counseling or grief groups?

Self-Care Encouragement

  1. Have you been able to get enough rest lately?
  2. Would it be alright for me to remind you to take time for yourself now and then?
  3. Are you managing to eat well, or can I prepare something nutritious for you?
  4. Would you like me to join you for a walk or some fresh air when you’re ready?
  5. Is there a particular self-care activity that helps you feel a bit more like yourself?
  6. Can I assist in arranging any therapeutic services, like a massage or spa day?
  7. Have you had a moment of reflection or peace lately?
  8. Can I provide you with books or resources that might offer comfort?
  9. Would gentle reminders to stay hydrated and nourished be helpful for you?
  10. Can I support you in maintaining or adapting any exercise routines you have?
  11. Is there a hobby or pastime you’d like to return to when you feel up for it?
  12. How can I encourage or help you incorporate well-being practices into your day?
  13. Would you appreciate a care package with soothing items, like teas or a soft blanket?
  14. Can we plan small, manageable outings for when you’re feeling up to it?
  15. Are there meditative or spiritual practices that you find grounding?
  16. Would it be helpful if I checked in on you to provide a distraction when things get heavy?
  17. How would you feel about establishing a new, comforting routine together?
  18. Are there any particular comforts or indulgences that brighten your day, even slightly?

Check-Ins and Continuity

  1. How often would you like me to check in on you, and what’s the best way to do so?
  2. Do you have a preference for how we keep in touch, like calls, texts, or visits?
  3. Would you like to plan regular meetups, even if just for a quick coffee or chat?
  4. Are there days or dates coming up that you’re dreading and might need extra companionship?
  5. How can I make sure you’re not feeling isolated or alone as time goes on?
  6. Would you like me to remind you of any ongoing commitments you have?
  7. Do you feel like you have a sufficient support system, or are there gaps I can help fill?
  8. Can I assist you in finding groups or communities where you can connect with others who understand your experience?
  9. Would setting up a standing phone call or visit give you something to look forward to?
  10. Is there anything I can do to help keep the memory of your loved one alive as time passes?
  11. How can we keep the conversation going in a way that feels comfortable for you?
  12. Would it help to have a designated friend you can signal when you need an immediate check-in?
  13. How do you foresee your needs changing over time, and how can I adapt my support?
  14. Is there a particular time of day that is hardest for you when you would appreciate a check-in?
  15. Would you like company on significant dates, like birthdays or anniversaries?
  16. Can I help you plan or look forward to future events or milestones?
  17. Do you want someone to remember or acknowledge your loved one during specific times or events?
  18. As time moves on, how can I help ensure that you don’t feel forgotten in your grief?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I start a conversation with someone who is grieving?

Start gently with a simple expression of concern like, “I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to see how you’re doing.” Respect their need to share or stay silent, and let them lead the conversation. Your presence and willingness to listen are key.

Is it okay to ask someone how they’re feeling after a loss?

Yes, it’s okay to ask, but do so with sensitivity. Try saying, “I’m here if you want to talk about how you’re feeling, but no pressure.” This allows them the space to open up when and if they feel ready.

How can I ask about a bereaved person’s needs without being intrusive?

You can offer specific ways you’re willing to help and ask if they’d find them useful.

For example, say, “I’m going to the grocery store and would like to bring you whatever you need, is there anything that would be helpful?” This shows support without pressuring them to articulate needs they might not yet have the energy to consider.

Final Thoughts

Coping with the loss of a loved one is an incredibly tough journey, one that’s a little easier when we know we’re not walking it alone. By carefully considering what we ask and taking the time to really hear the answers, we show our friends and loved ones that we’re with them through it all. The list above can be the gentle hand on their shoulder, reminding them that they have support at every step of the way.

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.