Grief doesn’t just come with death. Grief can come from the end of a relationship, it can come from the loss of a job, the loss of a friendship, the loss of a dream. Just as we are all different as individuals the way we grieve will also be different. Grief will change you, it will hold you hostage, and then it will mold you into a different person.
So, as someone watching a person you love grieve how in the world can you help them?
It can be really difficult to know the “right” thing to say to someone who is grieving. As someone who has felt like they’ve been in the grief cycle for a decade, (Her Name Was Judy, Grieving Amid Joy), I can honestly say that sometimes we don’t really need you to say anything at all. My best friend has always had this uncanny ability to know when I just needed to sit. To sit and know that she was by my side, but to just sit in the quiet. We always say that some of our best conversations are when we say nothing at all. Sometimes all we need is to sit in the quiet with someone we love, and just know we aren’t alone.
If your loved one has experienced a loss from death I think one of the most beautiful things you can do with them is share a memory, if you have one, of their loved one. “I’m praying for you” and “You’re in my thoughts” are kind, but they can feel impersonal. A personal memory is priceless. If you did not know their loved one personally an alternative would be to say, “can you tell me about __________(insert loved ones name here)? I would love for you to tell me about them.”
During grief I think we automatically, as humans, need to go be alone in a dark room. It’s hard to watch everyone going about their day as if nothing as happened when you feel like the world will never be the same. Supporting your friend through grief is knowing they will need some time alone, but they will also need your help to get out of the darkness. Support their need for alone time, but encourage them to get some fresh air with you. Ask them to meet at a park for a walk, a coffee date, to have lunch.
Let them know that it’s ok to cry in front of you, to be angry in front of you, to let whatever emotion their feeling come out in front of you. Be their safe space to say what they need to say, and to know that they won’t be judged for it.
Bring a meal and leave it for them, have food delivered to their house, send a gift card for food, start a meal train for them. I think most people will agree with me that the last thing you want to do after a loss is grocery shop, or cook. You’re just trying to survive at first. Nothing was more helpful after my dad died than the generosity of my parents church community. They showed up at our door within hours of his death and my mom didn’t have to even think about food for the next two weeks. It was a priceless gift they gave her.
Send a text, send a card, call them just to say you love them. My best friend would send me sporadic “I love you” texts through both of my parents illnesses and deaths. Three words was all it would take to remind me I wasn’t alone.
I think my number 1 thing for supporting your friends through a time of loss and grief is to not give up on them. They may push you away, they may take some feelings out on you, they may seem like a different person. They are going to be a different person. Their life will never be the same, and the future they had planned may look very different now. Don’t give up on them, be patient with them. They will come back to you, and they will be so thankful for you. They will be so thankful that you showed up during the hard time just like you always show up during the good times. Don’t give up on them.
Thanks for stopping by!