I am not sure exactly why, but I have been asked a few times by people close to someone grieving "What should I do?" I have not had any more horrible times than any common man, thus I am not an expert, but my mother is, and I thought I would type out some of her wisdom passed on. All people grieve so differently, and some people will hate all these tips, but I think it is always better to err on this side as it will be easier for someone to say "I dont want to talk about it" than for someone to say "I WANT to talk about it."
1. Asking Questions- Ask questions about details. This shows you care, and for people who get concerned about burdening others with their grief, this is a way for you to invite sharing the load. It also leads the way in showing them what you are willing to bear. I know for myself, when I witnessed a traumatic event, I wanted people to ask me details. No one did. But I wanted to rehash again and again the colours and sights and sounds as a way of purging the images and sounds.
2. Allow them to say what they feel- No contradictions! They may have been a strong person of faith, but in the wake of losing a child, are struggling to feel loved by God. Allow them to express this rage, confusion and pain without contradiction, at least initially. You can gently remind them of truth in a year or two.
3. Say the name- For someone who has lost a loved one, it can be a balm to hear someone else acknowledge the person that they loved is still remembered. Loss is about as painful as it gets, gently and lovingly referring to a person who is dead will not make the pain worse, but will show that you remember them too.
4. Sit and cry with someone. No words necessary. Hand out tissues.
5. Resist the urge to say "It's ok, He's in heaven" or "At least you have other children" or "he's better off." A sister who has lost her brother, or a mother who has lost her child is really only concerned that their loved one isn't WITH THEM. Whatever comfort they may derived from where their loved one is NOW, is really up to the griever.
6. Be around, call regularly, remember them and their pain 6-12 months along. Go visit, and call to check in.
7.Above all, loving someone as Christ loves- practically, emotionally, and spiritually- will cover innumerable mistakes. Love is like that.
I hope this can be a little bit helpful. It has been for me.