When a friend is grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to feel helpless. Most of us want to be helpful, but all too often we just don’t know how. We may even end up doing nothing because we feel we don’t know the right things to say and do.
Here are some tips to help you comfort a friend in their time of need.
1. Remember that your words matter
Yes, your words really matter. Pause for a moment and think about how you would feel hearing the words you are about say. Be mindful about using platitudes. Things like “They’re in a better place”, “God needed a new angel” or “I know exactly how you feel” can have the effect of minimising their loss. Your words can offer comfort, so choose them carefully. Sometimes a heartfelt “I can’t imagine” can be enough.
2. Your actions are important
Think about what you would want your friends to do for you. The most obvious thing to do is visit the person who is grieving. Hug them. Take them some food. Let them know you are there. Reach out with a phone call and let them know you care.
3. Say the person’s name out loud
Too many people shy away from mentioning the person who has passed away, fearing it will make their friend sad. But hearing a loved one’s name can bring great comfort. It honours them and pays tribute to them. So speak up!
4. Help them remember their loved one
Memories help us recall special moments with our loved ones. They make us feel good. Put reminders in your calendar so you can reach out in remembrance at key times. Their loved one’s birthday or the anniversary of their death. Give your friend a call or send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them.
5. Recognise the aspects of grief
Most people suffering a loss will go through a number of aspects of grief, often in no particular order and sometimes repeating stages – denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Each aspect is healthy and necessary. The more familiar you are with these aspects, the better equipped you’ll be to support your friend.
If you need help coping with grief, contact us by emailing [email protected].