4. Ease the loneliness

Sometimes people in grief need to be alone, and at other times they long for company or someone to talk to. A sincere offer to receive a phone call any time - including the middle of the night, when the caller is crying, lonely, and can’t get to sleep--is a true gift of a close friend.

Widows and widowers have taught us that evenings from about 5:00 on are difficult periods. That part of the day is when spouses most often share time together and establish habits of closeness. An offer to spend one evening a week with the griever can do much to ease the painful feeling of total aloneness. You may fix dinner together, watch TV or read. The activity is not as important as the presence of another human being who cares. If you're there once a week, you replace some of the consistency that has been lost. You help to fill the void.

Gradually the survivor may begin new activities and become involved with more people and eventually, with your help, the sense of isolation will lessen. But it takes time. Learning to cope as a single person after many years of marriage, or even after a short marriage, is not an easy task. And learning to care about life after the death of a child is very difficult. That's why grieving is called "grief work."