This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
When you have a friend who has lost a loved one, it’s hard to see them in so much pain. You naturally want to help them – but how do you do that without saying or doing the wrong thing? In this article, we’ll give you solid advice on how to provide loving support that will actually help your friend who’s grieving.
Learn About Grief and How It Works
Taking the time to educate yourself on the grieving process can make it a lot easier to help a friend who’s going through it. Here are some of the most important things to know about grief:
· Grief can never be “cured”. Your friend will always have grief over the person they loved who has passed away. It will never really go away, but over time, they’ll learn ways to cope.
· Grief has no time limits. There’s no such thing as a person grieving for too long, or for too short of a time. The grieving process will look different for everyone, and that includes the amount of time it will take to heal.
· There is no “normal” way to grieve. Everyone processes grief in a different way, and it often doesn’t always happen in a linear way. One moment your friend might be laughing and the next they’ll burst into tears. Trust that this is what they need to do as part of the healing process.
· Grief may result in behaviors that are upsetting to watch. As a friend who’s providing support to someone who’s grieving, you might have times when it’s tempting to give up. They might yell, be rude to you, or throw something across the room. It’s important not to get offended or frightened and stop offering your support.
Sit and Listen
When someone we love is grieving, we might want to offer advice or compare our own experiences to theirs. It’s important to hold back from doing that. The most effective way to communicate with a person who’s grieving is to actively listen to what they have to say. This can make them feel heard and respected, and help to reduce their stress and anxiety.
Offer To Connect Them with Other Support
The grieving process can be very isolating and lonely. You can’t be there for your friend all the time, so it’s a good idea to offer other kinds of support you could set them up with. This might be encouraging them to get online therapy, or sending them the link to a support group on Facebook.
Lend a Hand in Practical Ways
Telling your friend “Let me know if you need anything” is too vague. Someone who is grieving will often feel too overwhelmed or too embarrassed to ask for people’s help. Instead, tell them specific ways you can assist them with their day-to-day life. Studies have shown that this kind of instrumental support is an effective way to help. You could tell them you’ll walk their dog every day, or that you’ll do their grocery shopping.
Research has shown that most people can move through grief over time if they have adequate support from those around them. This shows that you being there to help your friend will almost certainly help them to heal.