When somebody you love goes through an awful loss, it can be very challenging, as their friend, to know how to support them. Especially if you have never been through this kind of grief yourself, you might be at a loss as to what to say, or what not to say. It could be that you avoid too much contact at all, for fear of saying the wrong thing.
Nevertheless, if someone close to you is going through a challenging time, you need to be there for them. Whether it is the loss of a parent, a friend, or even a child, your friendship and support will be a lifeline for them in these awful times.
Let’s get started on some tips: here is how to help a friend through grief.
Recommend seeing a professional grief counsellor.
As a friend, you can be supportive and kind towards someone who is in grief. What you can’t be, though, is their “fixer”. Many people struggle to know what’s best in these situations, so they fall into the trap of therapizing their friend or family member who is experiencing loss. This can lead to an unhealthy reliance and ultimately won’t be helpful in the long run.
Instead of trying to be the quasi-therapist in your friend’s life, you should recommend professional grief counselling. This step can be instrumental in a person’s recovery from losing a loved one.
Help your friend to organize any practical things that they might be struggling with.
Although you might not be able to offer full emotional support to a person in grief, you can offer your physical and practical support. This includes helping your friend or loved one to organize any practical things they might need to get done in the wake of somebody’s passing.
Organizational elements surrounding death, such as urns, funeral arrangements, or, in the event of child loss, children headstones, can be very stressful if you are trying to emotionally process it all. As a friend, you can help them to overcome these organizational ties by assisting in a practical way.
Don’t try to take on their pain.
Ultimately, when you are comforting somebody through a period of grief, it is easy to fall into the pit with them. If you spend a lot of time with a person who is at their wits’ end, it can be easy to start taking on their pain, ultimately making you feel awful too.
While empathy is an important emotion that you should give to a person in need, taking on another person’s grief is not helpful in the long run. You need to be able to separate yourself from their pain at the end of the day and not sink into grief with them. Being a rock in their storm is much better than melting into grief.
Helping a friend through grief is very tough for all involved, but that’s what friends are for. Use this guide to be the best friend you can be to someone in grief.