You are part of a team
If one friend tried to take a large part of the burden, it would be just as scary for the bereaved person as the friend, because we may already feel like too much and are very careful not to overload anyone. Don’t try to be everything for someone, but also don’t assume that everyone else is there for them, because everyone else may have thought the same thing. If you want to help, just offer what you can, however small, and stick to it. It is the accumulation of small gestures that means the most.
Make specific plans
Your grieving friend may not be able to think clearly and may not have a very good hold on their commitments. Show up and take them somewhere – anywhere – that will allow them to stay out of their own head for a short period of time. Don’t wait for them to suggest meeting up unless they’ve specifically asked for space.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died
They say that a person dies twice: once when they die physically and the second time when they are no longer spoken of. It’s terrible to be alone with your memories, because it can feel as though your loved one never existed. If you knew the person who died, tell your friend your memories of them. If you didn’t, so what? You’d still talk to other friends about their families even if you didn’t know them, so why not talk about your bereaved friend’s family too? I talk about my family as if they were alive, because they are alive to me. You will never inadvertently remind someone that their loved one died; they know that already!
Is it really the time to pick an argument? Your friend will be more sensitive to everything around them, and it’s likely that any disagreement will be far more upsetting than it would normally have been. Even if you are not comfortable talking about grief, you can still be helpful by being a calm, steady, presence in your friend’s life.
Don’t put a time limit on your friend’s grief
There are as many different types of grief as there are people. If your friend still seems to be struggling after what you consider to be too long, do not assume that you know what that means. Grief is not linear, and there is no such thing as too long. Time doesn’t always heal.
Be willing to learn
You may not have experienced a major loss in your life yet, but many people out there have. There are some wonderful podcasts, books, articles, and interviews available online. There are also likely to be plenty of real people in your life who are not afraid of talking about grief. Perhaps, in order to understand what your friend is going through, you could talk to an older member of your family about their experience of loss.
If you have any advice for others or if you would you like to write a blog, get in touch now, we’d love to hear from you.