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Helping a friend in grief

Helping a friend in grief

A friend or family member has experienced the death of someone loved. You want to help, but you are not sure how to go about it.

It can be challenging to know what to say to someone grieving. The fear of saying the wrong thing could make you avoid trying to help, but there is no one particular way to help someone through grief. By being open, compassionate and willing to help, your presence will offer support.

We really like this article in The Recovery Village (please read it for more information and useful articles on all topics around grief, loss and mental health).

1. Check in on them

Make an effort to check in with your friend, even if it is a quick phone call, a card or an invitation to grab a coffee together. You might be surprised how much your check-ins mean to a friend who is grieving.

2. Understand the grieving process

As your friend navigates the many difficult emotions that grief can bring, it is important to have a general understanding of grief and what they might be experiencing such as sadness, depression, anger and anxiety commonly.

3. Listen more, talk less

When you are in the presence of someone who is grieving, it is often difficult to know what to say. Your natural tendency may be to try to make your friend feel better, but in a situation such as grief, no amount of talking will help.

4. Let them cry

One of the most important aspects of the grieving process is the ability to express deep sadness and allow oneself to cry. Letting your friend cry shows them that you understand that crying is an important part of the grief process.

5. Ask questions

Often people are hesitant about asking questions of a friend who is grieving, for fear of upsetting them or saying the wrong thing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as it allows your friend to talk about their loved one openly.

6. Offer practical help

Grief can cause you to neglect your own basic needs at times. Offering practical help can be a lifesaver, even little tasks such a cleaning, cooking, offering to help with childcare, running errands, helping with laundry.

7. Be willing to sit in silence

Grief ushers in a variety of strong emotions, and sometimes a grieving person needs to sit in silence to regain a semblance of peace. Your silent presence may be more therapeutic than you realize.

8. Remember important dates

Anniversaries of grief experiences can be painful reminders of your friend’s loss each year. Reach out to let your friend know that you are thinking of them.

(There are also some really helpful “don’ts” and things you can say to someone who is grievingin the full article!)