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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Helping a Friend when they are Grieving

Your close friend losses their mother, or a workplace co-worker experiences the loss of their grandfather. Grieving is so difficult, but knowing what to say or do when someone around you is experiencing a loss is difficult for most people.

Talking with someone who has just had a loss is difficult. What are some things people to say to someone who is grieving?
1. “I’m sorry to hear about your loss”
2. “ I will be thinking about you.”
3. Admit that you might not know what to say, but that you are sorry to hear the news about the loss of the loved one
4. Do not ask what happened because they just makes the grieving person relive the pain.
5. Avoid clich├ęs such as “good things come from bad things” or “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
6. Avoid saying that you know how someone is feeling or suggest that they “move on” or “should” do anything

Now that we know what not to say, what is important to help?

1. Reach out. Email and texting is nice, but reaching out with a visit or a phone call is more personal and comforting.
2. Listen vs. directing. Allow the griever to talk about whatever they desire. Try not to lead the person into discussions you want to have vs. letting them just talk and gather support
3. Help. Instead of asking what you can do, just do something. Make dinner, offer to babysit, mow the lawn, or assist by shoveling the snow or walking their dog
4. Show your love. Talk about memories of the loved one and how they changed or made you smile. Share happy thoughts and memories and comfort the griever with things that bring happiness to their life.
5. Be enduring. Too often people are there for the funeral but absent days, weeks and months later. Remember that grieving goes on for a long time and be a supporter for days and months to come.

Are there any other suggestions to assist when your friend is grieving?
1. Allow the griever to express ALL of their feelings and let them know it is safe to cry or express any emotion in your presence
2. Be willing to be silent and perhaps just holding a hand, giving a hug, or just sitting with someone. This act can be the greatest gift you can give to someone who is experiencing a loss

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