How do you help a grieving friend?

We must admit: there’s no perfect recipe on how to support a grieving friend. Each person is dealing with grief in a different way. Most of the time, we don’t even know how to react: we may be afraid to say something so we don’t say it at all, which can make the person suffering feeling alone in this.

If you have never experienced the death of someone you love, you can have unrealistic expectations from the grieving person. During these difficult times, just being there, offering love and support can provide great comfort.

1. Help with the funeral arrangements

Planning a funeral service is not an easy task. From notifying the relatives to contracting the funeral director or obtaining the death certificate, you can make yourself helpful and take some of the pressure from your friend’s shoulders. Don’t take the lead, just offer your assistance. This is how you help a grieving friend: by being there during the difficult times.

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2. Show empathy and be present

You can’t just take the pain away. Common sense urges us to think that phrases like: “it was written to be like this”, “she/he is in a better place now”, “he/she accomplished his/her purpose here”, “time will heal your pain” are helpful. They are not. What helps is the fact that you, as a friend, are present. It’s always better to be sincere and show empathy. Tell him/her that you know how much it hurts. But you love him/her and no matter what happens, you are there. And this is more important and helpful than any platitude.

3. Never forget: the grief belongs to the griever

It’s tempting to believe that you will react differently to this situation. We hope you’ll never get the chance to find out. What you need to understand is that grief is an intimate, personal experience. It belongs to the individual who is experiencing it, not to yourself. Don’t tell your friend how he/she should feel or what he/she needs to do.

4. Be reliable and anticipate your friend’s needs

How to help a grieving friend? By anticipating its needs. When someone’s suffering the loss of someone they love, it’s possible that they will also lose their interest in doing the same activities they did before. So, instead of asking your friend to call you if he/she needs help with some activities around the house, make a specific offer. For instance, you can tell him/her that you will come to help him/her during a certain day & hour.

5. Show your love

Coping with the loss of someone it’s difficult, but it gets easier when you have someone to share your thoughts and feelings with. Most important of all, it’s important to let your friend know that he/she is loved and appreciated. Show up. Be reliable. Be present. Listen. And be patient.

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