Whether it was expected or not, the death of a loved one is a horrible experience to go through. When supporting a grieving friend, it can be hard to determine what will be most helpful. Losing a loved one is an unimaginable pain, but there are a variety of things you can do to let your friend know you’ll stand by them through this difficult time.
Don’t Try to “Fix” It
Don’t try to hide from the truth, and don’t try to “fix” the problem—there is no solution but to grieve. Your friend is going through an awful time, so mentioning that their loved one is in a better place, or that they had a great life, is not going to make them feel better even if you believe it to be true. While you may feel the urge to come up with positives in such a dark time, voicing them may make your friends’ emotions feel invalidated. Those in the early stages of mourning are not prepared to take in positive statements. While you may have the best intentions in looking at the bright side, it won’t serve your friend well. Stick to their reality when you’re trying to determine what to say. A simple commiseration that the situation is awful but you’re there for them is all that’s necessary. You’re there to listen or to provide silent companionship; you don’t need to have the answers to help them make it through their tragedy.
Pick up the Slack
When grieving, it may be hard for your friend to keep up with their everyday tasks. You can provide support by picking up the slack in these areas so they have at least one less thing to worry about. Whether it’s picking up or ordering groceries for delivery, keeping their house tidy, or helping them shuttle their kids to and from school, sports practices, or other extracurricular activities, your efforts will take a lot of stress of your friend’s shoulders. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you can do to make their lives a little bit less hectic.
The Funeral Planning
While still numb with shock, your friend is likely having to make hard decisions about funeral proceedings they never wanted to have to make. Ask them if they’d like you to attend any necessary appointments with them, if only to be there as a support system should things become too overwhelming. Whether it be to visit with the funeral home, select the coffin, or arrange for transportation, your help will be more appreciated than they can put into words. Funerals are very expensive, and if your friend is finding the finances to be more than they can handle, you can help them out by setting up a fundraising account for family and friends to donate to.
If You’re Far Away
If your friend is dealing with loss and you can’t be by their side, don’t think you have no way of showing your support. There are many ways to express your sentiments and provide your help from afar. You can send thoughtful funeral flowers to the ceremony as a tangible symbol of your condolences that will let your friend know you’re with them in spirit, if not in person. There are still ways to help them handle daily tasks if you’re not nearby. Since you can’t head over to help them clean up, hire a cleaning service to make sure their house remains tidy while they deal with their first few weeks of mourning and the specifics of the ceremonial processes.
Many will reach out after the news of a death is first brought to their attention, but many don’t follow up with the grieving in the long weeks and months after their loss. Make sure you’re the friend who sticks around and helps them for as long as needed. Grief is always present, it simply manifests in different forms and degrees. They will not have moved on from their loss, so you shouldn’t move on from providing your support.
Dealing with the death of a loved is one of the saddest trials of life. If you have a friend who’s loved one recently passed on, do all you can to support them during this trying time.