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When someone close to you suffers a loss, you may want to do something to comfort your friend, but you are afraid of doing the “wrong” thing. You may be even so scared of doing the “wrong thing” that you do not do anything for the person. There is no one size fits all approach to helping a friend through grief, however here are some ideas for how to help a grieving friend.
Sometimes all the person needs is someone to listen. You do not need to speak, just lend your ear and attention. This may not be easy as your friend may confide their gut wrenching pain to you causing you to be upset as well. So be prepared to hear and listen to your friend’s pain. Do not worry about offering advice or trying to “fix” the problem. Simply being present with the griever offers comfort. You may feel compelled to share a similar story of loss to share with your grieving person. This is not necessary. What your grieving friend needs most is for you to just to listen to their grief.
Send a letter
Send a letter to the griever. A letter is great if your grieving friend lives far away. Sending a heartfelt letter offers your support through your original words. The beautiful thing about a letter is that the griever can return to it and re-experience your support.
There are many books that are targeted at people experiencing grief. If you do not have the right words yourself, try giving the person a book about grief. Books are great because the griever can look at them at their leisure and at their own pace. Try several types of books as you do not which one the person will want to read.
The person experiencing grief may be forgetting to perform basic needs such as eating. This is a perfect place for you step in. No words required. Bring them comfort food to help nourish their body. Another option is to organize a food train with multiple friends. In a food train, each person schedules a day where they handle providing a meal for the griever.
Babies can cheer anyone up. Something in their innocent sweet smiles brings joy to any room. Ask first of course, but if you can, bring your small children and babies to visit with the griever. A babies presence will lighten the air and offer comfort in the way only a child can – by helping the griever reconnect to the world through the child’s eyes.
Often times people do not want to talk about good news to a griever. The end result is people only bring bad news to the griever. Understandably this is to relate and connect to the griever- however the griever needs to hear good things too. Otherwise it can feel like the griever is surrounded by despair when it fact the griever needs to reconnect to the joys of the world.
Plan an outing
Ask first. And if the person is ready, plan an outing. An outing can be a wonderful distraction for the person to escape their grief for a bit. Plan something low key that the person enjoys such as a nice dinner or a movie.
One of the hardest moments for the griever is the realization that there will be no new memories of their loved one. If you have a special memory to share with the griever, let them know. You do not have to share at that moment, instead let them know you have a special memory to share of their loved one and you would love to share it when the griever is ready.
Plan a workout for the griever. Boxing, running, weights, walking, or any other exercise offers an outlet. Set it up or invite the griever to join you in a physical activity. The griever may want to workout however may be experiencing trouble getting out of bed. By planning the workout, you are doing the hard work. The exercise will help the griever feel better mentally and physically.
Leave them alone
At times the outpouring of support can be overwhelming, particularly at first. The griever may need space to work their grief. Leave them alone for a bit and offer support later.
A grieving friend is lucky to have someone that cares enough to try to do something for them. Remember, even if the person does not thank you or seem happy that you tried to do something for them, they are. They are just focused on their loss at the moment. In time, they will know you were there for them when you needed them most.
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