Helping Families and Friends Honor Their Loved One
Helping a grieving friend: Do’s and Don’ts

Helping a grieving friend: Do’s and Don’ts

The grief that makes its way into our lives due to the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things to survive through. It is natural and humane feeling to be able to better the situation of a grieving friend. More often than not, we are actually willing to do as much as we can to help our distressed friend. However, in our attempts to heal a grieving person we may very likely worsen the situation due to our own inexperience. Although some people resort to giving space to the loved one and do nothing, there are actually many other better options which you can opt to help your friend instead of just distancing yourself from them. Here are some guidance points which may help you in determining your strategy regarding to help a grieving friend.

1.   Have patience

Helping a bereaving person is not as simple a task as it may look. It is never at all about the appreciation of your empathy and efforts towards the grieving friend. It is more about facing guilt, anger, regret and overwhelming deal of despair which is channeling from the bereaved friend. If you are willing to help a bereaving friend, be more than prepared to deal all kinds of negative emotions and energies with immense patience. Instead of taking everything a bereaving person says out of frustration to your heart, try to be as much patient with their sorrow as you can. It is incomprehensively strengthening for a bereaving person to know that he has a true friend on his who is willing to take on the bitterness stirred in you by the loss.

2.   Focus on the present

Despite how much tempting it may feel to resort to offering futuristic assumptions and memories of the past to find a reason which will validate the loss of a loved one, it is better to focus on the present and acknowledge the grief of the bereaving friend. Instead of proposing statements like the gone is in a ‘better place’ now, tell the grieving person how you acknowledge their despair and offer them your presence through such an excruciating time. Doing so will make the bereaving person accept the situation and eventually move on from it.

3.   Know your role

No matter how much you are willing to empathize with the excruciating pain of a loved one’s loss, never attempt to empathize with the despair of a grieving person with that of yours. Remember that your role is supportive in this situation and that requires you to offer a neutral outlet for all the sorrow instead of being a standard for determining pain. Know that the person you have lost is not entirely same as the one your bereaving friend has lost and consequently, avoid taking their grief on your own without even understanding it completely. The last person that your grieving person wants to hear from you is how it is equally hard for you as it for them because it is not.

4.   Speak the truth

Instead of speculating unrealistic expectations regarding betterment for the grieving friend, speak the truth of the situation to them. Tell the reality of what has happened and avoid saying things like the deceased one’s ‘mission’ in this world was completed. You do not know what the future reserves for you or your grieving friend and therefore, you should avoid being unnecessarily optimistic about it.

5.   Let the grief takes its natural course

The evolutionary design of humans is prone to making them immune to every adversity over the natural course of time. Although the remnants of tragedies remain to dwell in our life long after its happening, the pain associated with the tragedy gradually tones down over the period of time. Instead of making attempts to make the situation ‘better’, let it be the way it is. Doing so will eliminate the unnecessary pressure expectations placed on the powerless shoulders of a grieving friend and give him an immense deal of relief.

6.   Avoid constant questioning

Questioning can very well be a good way to better communication but in case of loss, it work contrarily. Constant questioning about how the grieving person is feeling and what he wants can actually bug him off and cause him to repulse from you. Trust your gut feelings and anticipations to offer a helpful hand to your bereaving friend.

7.   Offer a hand in daily chores

Loss drains all the energies from the bereaving person and causes them to fail in completion of daily chores around the house. You can offer help in completion of these tasks and recurring jobs in a number of ways such as taking their pet for a walk every day, picking up their laundry, buying them essential groceries and collecting their mail. It will help the grieving person by speeding up recovery time.

8.   Accompany your friend

After the passing of a loved one, several matters and dealings have to be finalized by your grieving friend. These dealings include signing of the death certificate, withdrawal of their employment and termination of their living space and used things. In all these finalizations, ask your grieving friend if you should go with them. If they allow you, go at all costs. By doing so, you will help your grieving friend in maintaining composure.

9.   Act as a relay

Consistent questions regarding progress and well being asked by family members and sympathies offered by every acquaintance lead to scratching of healing wound for the grieving person and it can irritate them a lot. It is your moral duty to act as a relay between the outside information and your grieving friend, Advocate for you bereaving friend in a way that is relieving to their family if necessary.

10. Show affection

Lastly and most importantly, your love and affection mean the most to the grieving person. Even when all your efforts are going unnoticed an unappreciated, you should never stop showing your affection towards the bereaving person. Your love will act as the glue to hold their pieces together in times of immense despair and derangement.


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