It doesn't matter how many times you are affected by death, it's always a shock and there's no right thing to do. Grief is a natural response and there have been five stages of grief identified:
1. Denial: "This can’t be happening to me."
2. Anger: "Why is this happening? Who is to blame?"
3. Bargaining: "Make this not happen, and in return I will ____."
4. Depression: "I’m too sad to do anything."
5. Acceptance: "I’m at peace with what happened."
There's no guidebook on how to help someone grieving but showing you care is important. Flowers help some people but searching for a vase and then watching something wilt and fade away seems almost cruel at this time.
Should you visit? Should you call? You'll know what's right but a card can be a way to show you know and can offer help, if needed.
Looking after those left behind is important so food and childcare are going to be needed. cookfood.net vouchers can help so the family don't have to think about food shopping and preparing meals in the near future. And after the funeral the family's situation will not change. When everyone thinks they will want to be left alone, those who've experienced something similar say that's not true and they'll need their friends more than ever.
I remember a friend at school not crying at her mother's funeral. She and her dad asked for no-one to come to their house after and we made secret arrangements to meet at my house with other school friends as I lived opposite. No-one cried that afternoon. Dad had fun indulging his daughter, dressing up and being silly in the garden. And no-one felt ashamed for laughing on such a sombre day as it helped them get through a terrible time.
If you are grieving don't suffer alone. There are many support agencies to help. The Bereavement Trust is available every day and the NHS website has some excellent advice, both practical and supportive.