How to Help | 10 Ways to Be a Good Friend in Grief

It is very awkward to be around someone going through grief of any kind. Even after the loss of my mom, I still find it hard to know how to be there for someone else going through a similar situation.

Here are 10 ideas to help someone who is grieving:

1. Don’t share stories of your personal loss in an attempt to relate.

You don’t need empathy to have sympathy. Just like when someone is pregnant and everyone loves to share their own horror stories with that person instead of listening and encouraging. Really? No one wants to hear your horror story from 10 years ago when they are living their own.

2. Don’t forget.

Grief gets worse before it gets better. Until you have grieved, it is hard to understand that. Ask how someone is when it’s been 6 months, 1 year, 3 years.

3. Just be there for them, LITERALLY!!!!

 Take them to the movies, stay home, bring coffee, just be there!!! You don’t have to say anything. Cry with them when they cry, laugh when they laugh. They will appreciate your presence and your time.

4. Don’t put too may social or practical pressures on them for a few years.

I know this seems crazy but just bringing the napkins to a social gathering was too overwhelming for me about a year after my mom passed. Try to take little meaningless tasks off their shoulders. Offer to make a meal or clean their room, or do their laundry. I’m not saying you should become   a maid, but every once in a while show you care by an act of service.

5. Write notes.

Whether it is a card, a sticky note on their locker or a text message, just put it out there that you love them. Give them social media shout outs or posts about the person they lost. It takes a few minutes but it means a lot to know someone is thinking of them and cares.

6. Stand up for them.
Believe it or not but gossip is crazy during difficult times. There may be all kinds of things being said about what happened, how the person is handling it, or what kind of friend they are etc.. Speak well of them behind their back and encourage others to stick by them and encourage them. BE A GOOD FRIEND JUST LIKE YOU WOULD WANT IF YOU WERE IN THEIR SHOES.

7. If you are a boss or a teacher, give them some space.
Mentally when we are grieving, it’s not that we don’t want to do things, it’s that we don’t have the mental capacity to do them. So students who are back in class the next week taking tests and doing homework are often expected to go right back to being A students. This is not only unfair, but also mentally impossible. Do whatever you can do to allow people to take the time to wrap their brains around what they just experienced. Gradually re-introduce real life and understand that it takes a few years to bring life back into focus and things may still be a little blurry.

 8. Plan outings or vacations.
If they won’t take the time for themselves MAKE THEM. Plan a road trip to where Twilight was filmed, go to the beach or snow for the day, go to Hawaii. Remind them how fun life is!!

9. Listen without judging.
People who are grieving may say some crazy things about life and how they are feeling. There may be a time for some gentle positive steering, but mostly they just need to get things out and verbalize what they are feeling. They may not even mean what they are saying, it’s just how they feel at the time, it needs to come out so it doesn’t stay anchored inside of them. Listen kindly, and allow them to vent.

10. Help them TALK IT OUT and encourage resources.
Don’t push too hard, but when you do some of the things above (like a road trip) you can ask and encourage them to talk about their grief. Create a safe place that will be gossip, judgment and advice free so they can begin to share and get the yuck inside of them out. Encourage a support group (maybe go with them) or a counselor gently if they need it. COUNSELING IS GREAT AND HELPFUL. It is vital to emotional health to talk out what is bottled up inside, so encourage your friends to use the tools to heal and become the people they are meant to be at the end of their journey.

Thank you for caring enough to want to be there for friends and family members during their personal pain or tragedy. I hope that there are people that will do the same for you.

I dedicate these ideas to the people who were just there for me. xo

For more on grief click HERE

For my personal story click HERE

Pass it on.

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