The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things we go through as human beings. You can’t fathom the depth of pain and sadness without experiencing it firsthand. It’s also difficult watching a friend go through a bereavement. It’s natural to feel helpless and to worry about saying the wrong thing. You can’t bring their loved one back, but you can help them through the pain.
Stay In Touch
The important thing is to stay in touch. You may not know what to say, but don’t let that stop you from being present. Your friend is likely to feel hurt if you avoid her. Be honest and explain that you have no words. Tell her that you’re so sorry and that you’re there for her in any way she needs. Take a little token of your friendship, such as flowers or chocolate. This is not to make things better. It’s to show you care.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Tears
Your friend may cry, and that may be painful to watch. But tears are important. They are a way of releasing the painful feelings. Don’t run away and don’t try to make her stop. There are few greater acts of friendship than holding someone else’s pain.
When someone dies, there are lots of practical things that need to be done. People need to be notified, and funeral preparations need to be made. Often this is overwhelming. Find out if there’s anything you can do to help. It may be little things like making phone calls. Or your friend may need help with sympathy and funeral flowers.
Sometimes asking what the person needs isn’t helpful. They may be inundated with offers and not know what to say. Therefore, suggesting ways in which you could help is an option. Food is always a good place to start. Even at the most difficult times we still need to eat. People will be visiting, and food may need to be provided. Preparing some meals is likely to be welcome.
In difficult situations, it’s easy to reach for cliches. However, where grief is concerned, they are not always well received. If you have just lost someone you care about deeply, you don’t want to hear that they are in a better place. Or, that God only sends you things you can deal with. This is likely to provoke sadness and even anger. Keep it simple. Be honest and truthful. It’s better to acknowledge you don’t know what to say, rather than reaching for a cliche.
Don’t Tell Them What To Do
Everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way of navigating bereavement. Everyone must find their own process. So don’t tell your friend she’s doing it wrong. Don’t tell her the ‘right way’ to do it. Let her experience this for herself and steer her own course.
Like grieving, there’s no right or wrong way to be there for someone. First and foremost, show up. Be honest if you don’t know what to say. Try to be helpful. And then take your cue from your friend. Listen to her and be there, in whatever way she needs you to be.