3. Don't wait to be asked

Grief often drastically depletes physical energy. Seemingly minor tasks can loom large to the survivor. In fact just to accomplish the simplest of tasks some days seems impossible to the grieving person. You might run errands, answer the phone, prepare meals, do the laundry or perform other necessary chores.

Don’t merely say, "If there's anything I can do, let me know." (Grievers have lots of those offers.) Many people find it difficult to ask for help and to keep on asking.

Instead, make specific suggestions such as, "I'd like to mow your lawn next Saturday morning at ten. Would that be okay with you?" or "I'd like to plant the two azalea shrubs and chrysanthemums that were given at Jim's funeral. You just tell me where you want them planted, and I'll work it into my schedule" or "May I go shopping with you the first time you go out for groceries?" "Please let me do your ironing for you" or "Do you have anything that needs repairing on your house?"

Roslyn recalls “I remember the first time I went grocery shopping after Rachele had died and seeing shoppers going up and down the aisles with their carts as if nothing had happened. I felt a great sense of isolation and aloneness and disbelief that the world seemed to be carrying on even though my daughter was dead. I wanted to scream out -'stop, don't you know what has happened'. When I got to the cashier I saw a public address microphone by the register and had the overwhelming desire to grab it and shout to everyone – ‘how can you be going on with life' (when it seemed to me normal life had come to a screaming halt) 'You need to know my daughter has died.” Editor's note: Roslyn did not grab the microphone and clear the supermarket.

Each thoughtful gesture gives something of yourself and keeps the survivor from having to continually reach out for assistance. It also lets them know you think they are important. Self-esteem is often low during the early months of grief, and knowing you care enough to go out of your way can do wonders for the bereaved person's morale.