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Is your friend grieving the death of a loved one? If so, you’re probably wondering how you can help them get through this painful time while giving them space to grieve and not overstepping your boundaries. Here’s what you can do when and what you shouldn’t do when trying to comfort a grieving friend.
How to help a grieving friend
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to giving comfort, but here are a few things that you can keep in mind.
Be a good listener
Your friend may have been the one listening to your stories the most, but this time, they’re the ones who need you to listen to what they’re going through. Let them talk their hearts out. They don’t need you to offer a solution to whatever emotional problem they’re facing. They just really need you to make them feel understood.
Listen to your friend, even if it seems like they’re simply saying the same things over and over again. Drop whatever it is you may be doing and focus your attention on the words they are saying, and let them know that no matter the pain they’re going through, you are there to support them.
Offer practical help
People who are grieving need your help the most at this point in time. So think of practical ways for you to help. Even if it’s with something as simple as doing the dishes or taking care of the laundry. At this point in time, your friend is just too emotionally burdened to even think about house chores. Take care of these things for them while they can't.
Now you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Let me know if you need anything.” Or the phrase, “Let us know how we can help.” But the truth is, your friend probably feels uncomfortable asking you for help, thinking that they’re being an unnecessary burden to the people around them. Or they may just be in so much grief to even know what help they need.
Don’t wait for your friend to ask for help. Offer whatever assistance you can at the moment. Your friend will definitely appreciate you even more for that.
Come up with a grief care package
Your grief care package can hold various items that you know your friend really needs at this point. For example, you can include food, toiletries, clothing, or even scented candles and other grief support resources.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It just has to show your sincerity and concern for your friend’s emotional and physical well-being.
Avoid saying the wrong things
There’s a fine line between trying to cheer your friend up and saying “positive” things that will ultimately make things worse for them. Here are some phrases that you should avoid:
“Don’t cry. Your loved one is in a better place now.”
“God has a reason for everything. It’s all part of his greater plan.”
“I know how you feel.”
They all sound positive, but in reality, they’re depressing and can make your friend feel even worse. Rather than trying to make it sound like your friend’s loss is something positive, acknowledge their pain. Gently reassure them that while you can’t fully understand their pain, you’re there for them.
You don’t need to teach them how to get through the grief. They will have to go through the journey themselves. Your role is simply to make them feel they’re not alone.
And if you think your friend would benefit from being part of a support group, you may introduce them to programs like GriefShare. GriefShare is a non-denominational program featuring biblical concepts for healing from grief. They offer in-person and virtual meetings all year-long.
We also offer other resources such as My Careletter, where they’ll receive monthly newsletters for a full year. These letters are written by grief and recovery professionals and are filled with practical and thought provoking information and articles for the family and friends of the deceased.
For more resources, please do not hesitate to reach out to our staff at Roupp Funeral Home or visit our website at www.rouppfuneralhome.com