Most of us do not know what to say or do when someone we love is grieving a loss. More than not being able to comfort that person, we are afraid of saying something that might make them feel even worse. And for such various reasons, we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do about the situation, so it is better to give that person the time to grieve. However, that is where we are wrong. The comfort we can offer to a grieving friend can make a huge difference and help him, or her heal or recover from the trauma in a healthy fashion.
The death of a loved one is among the most traumatic experiences one can go through in life. Your friend who has just suffered this loss might be struggling with several painful emotions such as guilt, anger, depression or sadness. Furthermore, they might also be feeling isolated or alone in their grief, and just the presence of someone who cares can be everything they need.
It is understandable for one to feel anxious about helping a grieving friend as many do not know how to go about doing this. But it is important to realize that this is perhaps the most difficult time of your friend’s life and he or she now needs you more than ever.
Begin by understanding that there is no time limit when it comes to grieving as people take their own time to recover. While some struggle for too long, others recover from the loss of their loved one even quicker than expected. And there is nothing wrong with either of the two scenarios. Therefore, if your grieving friend is taking a while to cope with the loss of their loved one, then there is nothing to be frightened or frustrated about. Give them the time they need but just be there by their side to make sure that they do not slip into a darker place.
#2. Recognize The Stages Of Grief
Coping with the death of a loved one is a process, every stage of which is vital. When someone very close to your heart dies, you go through denial, bargaining, anger and depression, which is followed by acceptance. The order of the stages may be different, but each one of these is necessary for a healthy recovery. The more you understand these stages of grieving, the better equipped you are for helping a friend deal with grief. So just keep these in mind and be around your friend to understand what it is exactly what they are going through and what is it that they need.
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#3. Just Listen
Sometimes when we are grieving, we do not want others to tell us that the person we loved is in a better place or nobody can deny fate. All that we need is a shoulder to cry on and someone who is willing to listen to what we have no matter how absurd or ridiculous we may sound. It surely happens to you when you are going through a bad phase in your life and is undoubtedly happening with your grieving friend. So do not care about not knowing what exactly to do or say to your grieving friend as you do not even have to utter a word to be supporting at this moment. Your presence is all that is required at the moment.
#4. Avoid Telling Them How Strong They Are
When your friend is grieving, you do not want to be the 101st person to tell them that they are strong and will be able to get through this. Or for that matter, you do not even need to utter any platitudes that your friend has been hearing ever since he or she heard the news of the demise of the loved one. While your intent might be good when you tell your friend that everything is going to be okay or it was the will of God, but that isn’t necessarily helping your grieving friend. Rather than saying any of the clichés, try first to consider what your friend might be exactly feeling.
#5. Ask Them What They Need
As we have said before, everyone grieves in their own way and therefore, it is not always feasible to comprehend what it is that your grieving friend needs right now. If that is the problem you are going through, then perhaps it is better if you asked your friend about what it is that they need you to do. Though it is good to be able to anticipate the needs of a grieving person, it is not always possible. So rather than trying to guess, just be upfront and ask them about what you can do for them. Even if there is nothing that they need from you at the moment, at least they would know that they can rely on you for support, love and care in these difficult times in their life.
#6. Never Compare One Loss To Another
You do not know how close your grieving friend was with the person who they just lost. So never even try to compare their loss to anybody else’s. Not knowing what exactly to say when someone dies, some people often end up comparing their loss to the death of a pet. That is the absolute last thing you would want to do. You losing your adorable dog or a cat might have been a little too hard on you, but it is in no way comparable to the loss that your friend has just suffered. By doing so, you can end up infuriating your friend and making them feel even worse rather than helping them overcome with the feeling of the loss.
#7. Distract Them
Although your grieving friend needs to process his or her feelings properly to cope with the loss in an emotionally healthy fashion, small distractions can be immensely helpful in keeping things from spiraling out of control. You can try momentary distractions like talking about how your day went and what is new in your life. One more thing, you have to be careful about using humor to distract them since even though it can distract them, you do not want to say something rude or inconsiderate while attempting to make your friend laugh. Also, you can offer to take your friend out to someplace you two have always enjoyed visiting or head out for a meal at your favorite restaurant. You will be surprised how effective small things like these are in distracting someone from their grief or loss.
#8. Remember Special Occasions
When you lose someone you love, people support you for a short period, and then they go about their own lives, believing that you have gotten over your loss. If you want to be a better friend, then be there even when everyone else has left your buddy’s side. Remember the special occasion like the birthday and the anniversary of the deceased and tell your friend that they are not the only one missing them. Simply sending a card or a text will let your friend know that they can come to you if they need someone on occasion.
#9. Keep Checking On Them
Like we have said before, there should not be any time expectations for your friend to overcome the loss. Therefore, you must keep checking on your friend how they are dealing with their feelings. Help a grieving friend by simply checking on them when no one else is there to. As told before, this is one of the darkest times of your friend’s life and they have never needed your love, care and support more than they do during these times.
#10. Recommend Professional Help To Them
If you feel that your friend is not able to cope with the loss, then recommend professional help to them. It is not uncommon for people to experience post-traumatic stress when they have lost someone very close to them and things can easily plummet if proper care is not taken at these times. So in case, you feel that your friend might be slipping into depression or some other sort of mental issue, then do not hesitate from suggesting that they take the help of a therapist.
The last thing we would like to say is that it is completely fine if you do not know what to do and say in these rough times. The most important thing here is your presence. So do not run away thinking that you are unable to help your friend. You could be the only person that he or she needs right now.
Tell us how you think one can help his or her grieving friend through comments below. We would love to know your thoughts and experiences.