Helping a friend through grief

Watching a friend struggling with the pain of grief is distressing. We can feel paralysed as we sit on the sidelines feeling helpless. In truth, we are anything but helpless. We are desperately needed by our grieving friend. He or she doesn’t need us to give them space – unless they ask for it.

Before the funeral, everyone gathers around, surrounding the family with love and support. But after the flowers, cards, and meals stop arriving, the support often drops off – leaving the person alone with their pain, which is intensifying as the reality of living a life without their loved one sinks in.

Helping a friend through grief is a long process because grief never ends. It comes in waves and only time and support reduce its intensity.

To be a true friend:

  • Regularly check in with visits, phonecalls and texts.
  • Make it clear that you’re happy to sit in silence or chat for hours.
  • Show you’re comfortable talking about the deceased person by telling all your favourite stories.
  • Make suggestions for ways you can help with meals, outings, child minding, cleaning, and shopping.
  • Don’t take their comments or behaviour personally.
  • Never tell them to “get on with it.”
  • Remember the important dates – birthdays and anniversaries and make a special effort on those days.
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