Mistakes will happen
It’s OK. We all mess up.
Even with the best intentions, you might accidentally say or do something that hurts instead of helps. Respect that they might need space from you, but don’t give up on yourself or your grieving person. The worst thing you can do is disappear.
If you make a mistake and you say something they don't like, don't completely withdraw. Maybe give them some space. But come back.
Eventually come back, maybe like the next day, or you can call them. Just let them know that, "I may not be that very good at this, but I'll still try to do my best to be there for you."
Just don't, don't pull away. Come back.
They'll be waiting for you, or they'll hope you'll come back.
I think the biggest mistake you can do is completely withdraw. I think that hur-, does a lot more damage than people realize.
But . . . I don’t want to make it worse
The fact that you are reading this shows that you are an awesome person who understands that approaching people in grief can be really delicate.
But . . . I don’t want to remind them about it
You will never be reminding a grieving person of their loss. Instead, we’ll be reminding them that you have not forgotten their loss. Reach out to show your support, you'll be reminding them how much you care.
But . . . I always say the wrong thing
Resist the urge to fill the silence with your own story. You don’t have to say anything at all, just listen. It’s awkward, we know, but you can do it. Your relationship with the person you are supporting is worth the awkward silence.
Try not to take it personally
If a griever refuses what you are offering, that’s OK. Prepare yourself for the reality that what you are offering might not be helpful right now. There might already be too many casseroles in the freezer - it's not a dig on your cooking.
If they do not respond to you right away, they might just need some time until they are ready. Ask if it’s OK for you to keep checking in.