Grief is a potent, traumatic, and ever-changing emotion that can completely change the course of one’s life. If you’ve never experienced the loss of a loved one before, it may seem very difficult and confusing to try to provide comfort and support for a friend currently going through it. You may be worried about saying the wrong thing, intruding, or somehow making their pain worse. It is essential not to let your fear or discomfort hold you back from reaching out. You don’t have to have the perfect answers or advice; you need to show your friend that you care and want to be there for them to lean on as they go about their journey with grief.
Understanding the Grieving Process
Grief is often described as a five-stage process including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, everyone experiences grief differently, and everyone is on their own timeline. It’s also important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and whatever emotions your friend experiences throughout this process are valid. You may watch your friend go through a wave of different emotions, from deep sadness to anger during this time. They may even lash out at you at times. This isn’t because you have done anything wrong, but simply a normal part of the grieving process.
Speaking to Someone Grieving
There are some important things to remember when speaking to someone who is currently grieving the loss of a loved one.
- You don’t have to try to avoid saying the name of the person who passed away or the subject of their death. In fact, your friend would likely appreciate that you’re acknowledging their loss instead of simply ignoring it.
- Take cues from your friend regarding what they do and don’t want to talk about. What they need from you may vary from day to day. Sometimes they may want to share memories of their loved ones, while other days, they may simply want to vent, sit in silence, or need a shoulder to cry on.
- Be sure to verbally express your concern and sorrow for your friend and make it clear that you’re there for them for whatever they may need throughout their grieving process.
- If they are willing, encourage your friend to open up about their feelings. This may involve them telling the same stories over and over again. Be sure to listen compassionately, as this is all part of how they are processing their pain.
- You don’t always have to feel the need to fill the silence. Your friend may not want to speak but simply want someone to sit beside them so that they’re not alone.
- Remember to accept their mood swings as they will likely experience a wide range of emotions during this time.
What Not To Say To Someone Grieving
- Please don’t rush the grieving process by encouraging your friend to move on before they’re ready or scold them for not being further along in their grieving journey. Everyone grieves at their own pace.
- Don’t try to minimize or invalidate how they are feeling or acting.
- Not everyone is faithful or believes in life after death. It is wrong to push this belief on someone mourning a loved one. Don’t use the phrase “they are in a better place now.”
- Please don’t encourage the individual to focus on the things in their life they still have to be grateful for. While they may be grateful for these things, they don’t make up that their loved one is no longer with them.
- Don’t provide unsolicited advice.
Other Ways of Helping a Grieving Friend
- Especially if they are dealing with funeral plans or other arrangements, your friend may not have the time or energy to cook. Consider dropping off meals for them to ease a little bit of their burden.
- Consider picking up some groceries or coffee for them to save them time.
- Help provide care of their pets.
- If they have children, volunteer to help with carpooling or babysitting.
- Offer assistance with insurance, paperwork, and other bills.
- Provide help with any necessary housework such as cleaning or laundry.
- Offer to help with funeral arrangements.
Remember that your friend doesn’t just need you in the days and weeks following the loss of their loved one, but for the long haul. Their pain may continue for a long time. Remember to continue to check in with them and offer a listening ear whenever they need one.
Grief is a complicated, overwhelming, and ever-changing emotion. Suppose you’ve never lost someone close to you before; you may not be sure how to help a friend going through grief. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or somehow making things worse. Don’t let this hold you back from supporting your friend during this time. Let them know that you’re there for them for whatever they need, whether that be a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to. Be respectful of their journey with grief, and don’t encourage them to move on before they are ready. Remember that grief takes time and affects everyone differently. Even after months since your friend’s loved one has passed, continue to check in on them and let them know that you’re there for them. If you’re struggling with your mental health, our team at Achieve Concierge is here to help. Call (619) 393-5871 today to learn more.