When a friend loses a loved one, we are sometimes confused about how best to be there for them. Condolence messages are great, but what does a step further look like? Here’s a list of things you can do for a grieving friend, aside from saying sorry.
1. Do: Ask them what they need
Our needs as humans differ from person to person. It’s important to ask your friend what they need and how you can help them. Otherwise, you would be imposing on them at a time when they need ease.
Don’t: Assume their needs
Don’t think that because something worked for you or someone else, it would work for them. The last thing you want to do to your friend during this time is stressing them. Be considerate.
2. Do: Their laundry
Grief is a harrowing experience and can leave you feeling drained. You can visit your friend and help them do their laundry as a way of saying you care.
Don’t: Be overbearing
Know when to leave. It’s easy for your friend to feel overwhelmed during this time so be careful how you interact with them not to cause more distress.
3. Do: Cook for them
Your friend may not have been eating well because they are too tired to get food. This is where you come in. You can either cook for them or buy them their favourite meal. Food is always a nice way to tell someone you love them.
Don’t: Force them to eat
Don’t force them to eat. If they don’t want to eat, allow them. They will get around to doing what they want eventually. Your job is to witness and be there for them.
4. Do: Send them money
Money is necessary during this time for little things like ordering ice cream to make them feel a bit better or big things like buying a casket for the burial. Ask them if it’s okay to send them money and show up for them how you can.
Don’t: Assume that’s all you need to do
It’s easy to rely on money to play your part as a friend. Money is one thing, presence is another thing. Let your friend know that you are there for them and if you weren’t sending them money for them, you’d be doing something else.
5. Do: Visit them
Sometimes, your friend might need good company to deal with the loss. You can show up with drinks, food and games if they are open to that. Remember to know when to leave.
Don’t: Go without asking
Sometimes your friend just wants to be alone to deal with their feelings. Don’t be that guy that shows up unannounced.
6. Do: Give them space
Your friend might be someone who needs space to process things. Don’t be a pain in their ass by hanging around when they have made it clear they want to be alone. Respect their wishes.
Don’t: Try to tell them what you think they need
Don’t force your ideals on them. Listen to what they want and support them however you can. If you can’t do that, at the very least, leave them alone.
7. Do: Listen to them
Sometimes all you can do is listen to them talk about their feelings and give the occasional, “Hmm”. When they are done, you can ask what they need and how you can help them.
Don’t: Say things like “God knows best” or “Be strong”.
If you can’t think of anything soothing, hold their hands or offer to hug them.
8. Pay for therapy sessions
Therapy is helpful for people who are grieving. Be sure to consider your friend’s preferences and lifestyle before hooking them up with a therapist. Therapist-client fit is a real thing. If they get the right fit, the therapist could help them navigate the grieving process better.
Don’t force them
It’s important for them to choose what to give their energy to and if they decide they are not ready for therapy, your job is to support them in other ways they might need it.
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