How to Help a Grieving Friend
Here is some practical advise on how to help a grieving friend. Grief, love and loss are entwined with a myriad of emotions from loss to the injustice of death. It is at these times that we need our friends to provide support, comfort, guidance and hope.
Below is a list of practical ways on how to help a grieving friend.
Spend time caring for your own sadness first.
Before you pop around to see your friend and extend the hand of friendship in their time of grief, take a moment to come to terms with your own emotions. The last thing you want for your friend is to need to step in and comfort you in their loss. Just take a moment to pause and reflect on your own feelings so that you are able to visit your friend knowing you can be there to support them in the best possible way. It is okay to hug them and shed tears, but be there for them in their time of grief. The focus needs to be on the care of your friend.
Think about how your friend might be feeling.
One of the best ways on how to help a grieving friend is to acknowledge their grief and the emotions around that. Just your presence in the room can make a difference. Grief is as individual as the person and their connection with their loved one. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, there are some basic signs of grief that are acknowledged. These include anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They will not fall in a neat order and these emotions are not a linear experience, instead they are circular and can be experienced in fast or slow waves of varying intensity. Grief is natural and normal. However, if your friend experiences these emotions to an intensity that it is isolating and limiting, it is always advisable to connect with a grief counsellor or professional provider. These people are trained to offer and assist with moving through grief. It never hurts to seek outside help.
So you don’t know what to say?
This is perfectly normal. It is far better not to say anything than try to say words that will cause distress. Phrases to be avoided include
- “I know how you feel” – because most of the time we do not understand
- It is better not to share your grief experiences with them. This needs to be about your friend
- “It was God’s will” – This can be quite hurtful
- “They’re in a better place”
- “Life goes on and everything happens for a reason”
- “He had a good innings”
- “You’ll get through this – be strong”
Better phrases to use
- I can’t comprehend how you must be feeling. Just know I am here for you
- I am praying for you or you are in my thoughts
- Life will not be the same but I am here to help you through
The best act of kindness that you can give your friend is to be present for them. Sometimes words are not adequate. It is far more comforting to have someone with them, to gently hold their hand or to give them a hug. Just making them a cuppa can bring a little comfort.
How to help a grieving friend in practical ways.
How to help a grieving friend in practical ways. Do not say if there is anything I can do, please give me a call. Chances are your friend is too grief stricken to take you up on this offer. When you meet with them, observe that practical day to day living tasks that need to be done. While you are there just ask permission. “Can I do this for you”
Practical tasks may include
- mowing the lawn or watering the garden
- doing the washing or ironing
- managing the myriad of phone calls coming through
- providing a cooked meal
- cleaning the house
- picking up people from the airport
- doing some shopping for them
A good friend is there through the good times and the bad times. You are there to lend a shoulder to cry on or to be a sounding board. You are there to help ease the burden in practical ways. You are there when everyone else has moved on with their lives and the phone calls and visitors cease.
May you be blessed as you journey through this season of grief with your friend.