It’s not easy to see someone you love grieving a loss, and it’s even harder to know what to say or do to help them.
In my opinion, we worry too much about offending people with our good intentions. While yes, there are things you want to avoid doing or saying, we’re not actors in a hyper sensitive Buzzfeed video, and we more than likely know what you mean.
As you may know, or have guessed, some of these opinions come from personal experience, but some also comes from observation and talking to other people who have lost a loved one, and I think that as the human need for love is important above all else when we’re hurting, these ideas are pretty universal.
What To Do For Grieving Friends
Offer empathy. In other words, just be there for the person to listen and talk through what they’re feeling, but don’t try to make it better. It’s our naturally tendency to want to fix things, but believe me, this can’t be fixed, and the best thing you can do is not try. Just listen willingly. It really helps!
It’s okay to repeat yourself. When someone loses someone close to them – a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a best friend – what do you say? You may feel foolish repeating the same “I’m so sorry” over and over, but you know what? It’s okay! It doesn’t sound foolish, and they would rather know you care, and that you empathize with their pain, than to think you’re brilliant and have a solution, so just go ahead and say it – again.
Go ahead and ask how they’re doing. It may be slightly uncomfortable. You know they’re not doing okay even though they’ll probably say they are, but it’s still a good idea to ask, because asking shows that you care, and you know what? It helps them be okayer.
Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. If you’re really close to the person who’s lost someone, don’t be afraid to say “I know you’re not okay, so how are you really?” So many people are happy to ask the surface questions, breath a sigh of relief that their duty is done, and move on, but we all need a few people in our lives who really, truly care, and if you really care, then go beyond the surface. The honesty of the person you ask will vary, because so many of us want to show a good front no matter what, but the message you send is the same. You care for real. And that’s important.
Don’t forget them. Especially during the first year, everything is harder for a person who’s lost a close family. Try to put important events during their year, such as birthdays down on your calendar so you can send them a card or let them know you’re thinking of them. Some of my sisters’ friends did this for our younger siblings after we lost our mom. She was the main birthday joy-bringer, and they made sure to send cards and such on their birthdays, and it really helped brighten their day!
Above all, remember this: it’s not what you say or do that will help, so much as that you said, or did something. It helps filled the void – just a little bit – that was created when we lost the person we loved. It tells us that you remember them too, and that means everything.