If someone you care about is grieving, it can be hard to watch their pain. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to support them. Here are just a few:
1. Reach out. Small gestures matter when someone is mourning. Call your friend, send a card, or contribute to their favorite charity. Keep reaching out in the weeks and months after the death. That’s when your friend needs you the most, as the long, hard work of mourning begins.
2. Don’t offer to help; just help. When you offer to help someone, you put the burden on them to tell you what to do. Instead, just pitch in where help is needed. Bring food, clean the kitchen, shovel the walk, or assist with funeral arrangements. If you have project management skills, recruit other friends and organize a schedule for bringing meals or helping with the kids.
3. Talk about the deceased by name. Many people avoid talking about death, yet many people in mourning long to talk about their loved one. While it may bring on tears, talking with your friend about the person they lost can be an important part of healing.
4. Be willing to listen. More than anything, a bereaved person needs to vent their emotions. Let them vent to you. They may rant and rave; they may repeat the same story over and over again; they may express sadness, anger, confusion, fear, or other complex emotions. This is all a normal, necessary part of healing.
5. Be patient. The process of mourning takes much longer than many people realize, and some elements of grieving can last for years. And, of course, grieving is never truly finished. Love outlasts death, and the deceased will be part of your friend’s emotional landscape for life. Don’t try to rush your friend’s grief, or express impatience with how quickly they are recovering. They are working at their own speed, and that’s all anyone can do.
Next time, join us to learn a simple breathing technique that can help bring calm when grief overwhelms.