As a friend or family member grieves, it can be difficult to know how to comfort them. Don’t give up even if it looks like nothing you can do or say will help. You cannot alleviate the pain, yet your company is more meaningful than it seems. Accept the fact that you have no control over the circumstances and can’t make your friend or relative feel any better about the loss. The best thing you can do is just be there and bring hope and an optimistic outlook for the future. Understand that grieving is a process that takes time and isn’t linear.
Bereaved people can benefit tremendously from even the smallest acts of kindness, such as a hand-written letter, a phone call, or even a visit from a friend or family member. For many years, we at Funeral Caring USA have assisted grieving families in creating meaningful memorials for their loved ones. As a result, we can advise how to support someone in grief. In addition, while each person’s grieving process is unique, there are ways friends and family members may express support in ways that assist the bereaved find solace.
When a close friend or family member has just lost a loved one, you may find yourself avoiding them. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing and making matters worse, or you just don’t know what to say. People mourning tell us that the worst thing someone can say is nothing. Your support, on the other hand, can be just what they need.
Reach out to offer your condolences— and unless the grieving person says it first, refrain from using phrases like “It’s God’s plan” or “It was for the best.” Keep in mind that usually, people stop calling after the first few weeks, so your friend could benefit from your calling weeks and months after the death. Check-in from time to time simply to say hi. Being a bereaved person is painful enough that it often requires someone else to take the lead in reaching out.
Listen, Listen, Listen
There is nothing better than having someone listen to you with an understanding heart. An even better friend is one who listens even when the same story is told with very little change. It’s actually quite common for people to try to work through grief or trauma by telling their stories over and over again. Avoid giving advice until you are asked for it. Anyone going through a difficult time wishes that someone would simply sit and listen. It’s your empathy, not your advice, that’s most required.
Though it’s important to keep in mind that some people may be unwilling or unable to speak at all, often, simply being in the same room and sitting quietly together may be soothing.
Offer Practical Help
Avoid asking whether there is anything you can do since this shifts the responsibility to the bereaved, who may be hesitant to make a request. Instead, be precise. You may lend a hand in the kitchen and volunteer to assist with grocery shopping. It can be difficult for many bereaved people, especially widows and widowers, to adjust to meal preparation, grocery shopping, and cooking for one.
Understand that Grief Can Take Years
Many practical tasks will likely arise in the first few days and weeks following the loss of a loved one. This is also the time when most relatives and friends are most willing to provide a hand. However, grief has no time limit, and your friend or relative may need to grieve or talk about their loss for months or even years following. You can keep track of any dates or anniversaries you know will be particularly tough and get in touch with the bereaved during those times.
Provide a Safe Space
Create a safe space for your friend or family member to express themselves. Their emotions might range from sadness to anger. Recognize and honor their feelings. Let them express their feelings without making them feel bad about them.
It’s not uncommon for mourning folks to go back and forth between the two extremes. They may be emotional and want to talk about their loved one, but then shift the conversation to something more mundane. Remember to keep everything they tell you privately unless they consent to share it with others.
By looking for ways to support your mourning friend online, you’re already going above and beyond the average person. The most beneficial thing you can do for someone is to show them that you are there for them. Death is a difficult aspect of life that we shall all face at some point. While it might be frightening, it is less so when we are not alone.