It is not always easy supporting a friend through grief. We struggle with our words and can be unsure what to say. Often, we do not know what to do to make them feel better. You know they are going through some painful emotions, and this is understandable. They likely feel depressed, angry, and maybe even guilty. Sometimes, they may feel alone and isolate themselves further while going through the stages of grief. This distance makes it even more difficult to offer support.
You may think you are intruding and worry about saying the wrong thing, but do not let that keep you from reaching out to your friend or loved one. You’ll feel better knowing you helped them instead of not doing anything at all. Your loved one needs you now more than ever and a real friend will be there. You can do it.
Nobody expects you to have all the answers or to give expert advice, but it is vital to show up when it comes to supporting a grieving friend. Being present and showing support will benefit them more than you can imagine. Your presence helps them cope with the pain, and they will ultimately begin to heal.
The Grieving Process
The more you understand about grief and how to treat it, the better prepared you are to uplift grief-stricken friends or family members:
Remember, there is no proper way to grieve.
Grieving often does not progress in sequential stages. The process can be an unpredictable emotional journey. Because everyone goes through the stages of grief in their way, refrain from telling your loved ones what they should be feeling or doing.
Mood swings and odd behaviors can accompany grief.
Guilt, anger, hopelessness, and fear are all common emotions. A bereaved person may develop a fear of death or bawl for days. Your loved one needs to have a sense of security and to know that what they are experiencing is normal. The last thing they need is someone passing judgment on them or holding their emotional retorts personally.
You can not put a time frame on mourning.
Many people take up to two years to recover, while the process may be longer or shorter for others. Do not pressure your friend to move on or make them feel as if they have been in mourning for too long. This sentiment has the potential to slow recovery.
What to Say to a Grieving Friend
While many of us are concerned about what to say to someone grieving, it is equally important to listen to them. Well-meaning people frequently hesitate to speak about the dead, so they change the conversation. Or sadly, knowing there is nothing they can say to help, they tend to avoid the grieving person.
The most valuable assistance you can provide is a compassionate ear. Allow your friend to express their grief in any way they need to. They may cry, have outbursts of anger, scream, laugh uncontrollably, manifest remorse or regret, or participate in stress-relieving activities like painting or yoga.
However, the bereaved need to know that their loss is acknowledged and that they will not forget them. You can learn from the grieving person by being present and listening.
Comments to Avoid
It is natural to want to take the suffering away. However, some words intended to encourage your friend can be hurtful. Please refrain from saying things like:
God makes no mistakes.
They are in a better place.
You are young! You will find somebody else.
They are not suffering anymore.
You’ll be okay.
God needed another angel.
Approaches to Avoid
As you do not always know what to say, you may not know what to do either. Here is help in that area, too.
Avoid telling them how you felt when it happened to you
Refrain from comparing grief stories or experiences
In terms of the 5 stages of grief, do not tell them they are not progressing fast enough or tell them they are doing it wrong
Offer Practical Assistance
It is already difficult for people to ask for help. They might feel guilty about receiving so much attention, so instead of saying, "Let me know if I can do anything for you," say, “What can I bring you from the store?” or “I made dinner. When can I come by and bring you a plate?”
You can also offer to run errands, help with funeral arrangements, bills, housework, kids, or pets. Sometimes the aspects of the death, such as a devastating, or untimely death, are distressing. There may be factors that make supporting a friend through grief particularly painful or difficult. Your friend may need to seek the help of a mental health professional if they are struggling with daily activities such as hygiene or cleaning. The best thing you can do as a friend is to be there for them and to let them take the lead on the support they need.
If you’re ready to start planning your estate after experiencing a loss, contact the team at Willed today.