grief and death

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Grief & Loss

The Healing Process: Supporting a Grieving Friend

  • Be a good listener
  • Just sit with them
  • Ask about their loss
  • Make telephone calls
  • Let them feel sad
  • Do not minimize grief
  • Ask about their feelings
  • Share your feelings
  • Remember the loss
  • Acknowledge the pain
  • Be available when you can
  • Talk about your own losses
 People who are grieving often feel isolated or lonely in their grief. Soon after the loss, social activities and support from others may decrease. As the shock of the loss fades, there is a tendency on the part of the griever to feel more pain and sadness. Well-meaning friends may avoid discussing the subject due to their own discomfort with grief or their fear of "making the person feel bad." They may "not know what to say."

When people are grieving they are likely to fluctuate between wanting some time to themselves and wanting closeness with others. They may want someone to talk to about their feelings. Ask them what they want, make a commitment to be available when they want to talk even if it is at 3:00 AM. Showing concern and thoughtfulness about a friend shows that you care is important. It's better to feel nervous and awkward sitting with a grieving friend than to not sit there at all. Above all, don't give advice or say something stupid. If you do, you could do more harm than good. Let them take the lead. If you offer to help and they don't tell you what they want or need, just pitch in. Do the laundry, fold clothes, go to the store, fix dinner or whatever else you know needs to be done. This is the time to be a good listener.