Updated: Nov 7
By: Ready Nest Intern, Ryann Christ
Grief can make the world feel lonely and overwhelming. Grief comes with a whirlwind of emotions, from deep sadness and anger to guilt and depression. When someone you care about loses a loved one, your love and support become invaluable. Understanding how to help your grieving friend is an essential step towards providing the comfort they need during this challenging time.
It's natural to feel uncertain about what to say or do with someone in grief. The fear of saying the wrong thing can be paralyzing. However, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting someone through grief. The key lies in being open, compassionate, and willing to help. Your presence itself offers a significant source of support.
Step 1: Check In... A Simple Yet Powerful Gesture
Take the time to check in on your grieving friend, whether through a phone call, a heartfelt card, or an invitation for a coffee. It can make a world of difference. These gestures of care and consideration may surprise you in terms of their impact on your friend's well-being.
Dealing with grief can make it tough to keep up with everyday tasks. Some may neglect basic needs. Lending a hand with practical things like running errands, tidying up, preparing meals, looking after kids, or helping with bills and laundry can make a world of difference. Take the initiative! For instance, you could let your friend know you've cooked a meal for them and ask when would be a good time to drop it off. Or offer to babysit one evening to give them some time for themselves. Sharing your availability on specific days can make it easier for your grieving friend to accept your help.
Grieving doesn't have a set timeline, and it often lasts longer than expected. The bereaved may need your support after many months or even years. Stay in touch, drop a message now and then, and continue to offer your presence. Their process with grief may be ongoing. The initial support they had may have tapered off. Remember, time passing doesn't always mean they're doing alright. Keep that connection strong!
Step 2. Respect Their Process
Grief doesn't follow a predictable path. It's more like an emotional rollercoaster. Each person's journey through grief is unique, and it's important to avoid imposing expectations on how they should feel or behave. Be open to their expressions of pain, even if it seems irrational or intense. This is a crucial step towards healing.
One of the most critical aspects of grief is the freedom to express deep sadness and allow oneself to cry. Encouraging your friend to cry communicates your understanding of its significance in the healing process. It's natural to want to cheer them up, but remember, tears are a necessary part of the journey toward healing.
Certain occasions, like holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, can intensify grief. Be especially sensitive and offer extra support during these times. Give your friend permission to feel sad on these once happy days. Recognize that life may never return to how it once was, and that's okay. Your enduring presence and understanding can make a world of difference.
Step 3. Just Listen
While it's natural to worry about saying the right thing, it's often more important to lend a listening ear. Many people inadvertently shy away from discussing the tough things and try to steer conversations toward easier topics. Yet, the grieving need to feel that their loss is acknowledged, and their loved one won't be forgotten. By being present and genuinely listening, you provide comfort and create a space for healing.
Don't shy away from asking questions about your friend's loved one. Encourage them to share memories and cherished moments. Inquire about their well-being, both physically and emotionally. Remember, you don't have to have all the answers or solutions — you won’t. Your friend doesn’t need advice or platitudes; your compassionate presence and willingness to listen alone can make an immense difference.
Supporting someone through grief requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to simply be there. You don't need to have all the answers; your presence and compassionate listening are what matter most. By understanding that grief is a unique journey, offering practical assistance, and providing ongoing support with a listening ear, you can help your grieving friend navigate this challenging time with comfort and healing.
If you find yourself in need of professional help, don't hesitate to reach out to us and schedule a session. Our dedicated team at Ready Nest Counseling is here to help you navigate life's challenges and transitions with care and compassion. Whether you're experiencing difficulties related to conception, pregnancy, postpartum, infertility, loss, parenting, or relationships our therapists are ready to support you. We offer both in-person and virtual therapy. Schedule a therapy session with us today and take the first step towards a healthier you. Ready Nest Counseling also offers support groups for new moms and those who have experienced pregnancy loss. Remember, you don't have to face it alone – we're here for you.