Mourning the loss of someone close to us is one of the hardest challenges we face in our lifetimes, and one of those unavoidable circumstances that rears its head when you least expect it. If you have a friend who has recently lost someone close to them, whether it be a family member, significant other, or close confidante, they will need your support during this terrible time. It can be hard to know what to say or what to do in the event of someone’s passing, but these general guidelines can help you figure out how to best help your friend through their grieving process.
There is No Answer
Don’t search for answers to the questions your friend might pose. Death is unexplainable, and the grief that comes along with losing someone close to us cannot be reasoned away. It’s understandable that you’ll want to offer words of comfort and support in a bleak time, but sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all. The grieving process comes along with its fair share of anger, and trying to appease your friend with statements like “He’s in a better place” or “She had a wonderful life” may only result in invalidating their feelings. Most often, your friends aren’t really expecting you to speak or provide them with answers, they may only need to vent and let their emotions out. Sometimes just providing a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen can be all they need.
Handle the Everyday Issues
Everyone handles grief differently, and if your friend is finding their sadness debilitating, even the simplest of everyday tasks can present an insurmountable challenge. Instead of waiting for them to ask you to help out, step in and take initiative. Show up with groceries at the beginning of each week or sign your friend up with a subscription to Green Chef, a company that will deliver recipe boxes directly to them. If your friend has children, pick them up in the mornings and afternoons from school and transport them to extracurricular activities if necessary, and offer to host them for sleepovers with your little ones for a few days while your friend handles the pressing details. Come over and do laundry while they take a nap, do the dishes that might have piled up in the sink, and take care of the yardwork. If you can’t get over there to do it yourself, send a cleaning service. The less they have to worry about, the better.
Friend until the End
Once the shock wears off, many family members and friends will get sucked back into the everyday hustle and bustle of life and forget to keep calling, stop dropping by with dinners, and forget to check in. It’s the way life goes sometimes, but as your friend continues to grieve, it’s your duty to ensure your support remains strong no matter how long it takes until they’re at a stable place, and often even longer. There is no “moving on” from the death of a loved one, but the ache will dull and your friend will find themselves coming back out of the darkness depression may have set in. Make sure you’re by their side until that moment comes.
The Funeral Specifics
If your friend is in charge of planning the funeral, be there with them every step of the way. They’ll be fielding a bevy of questions and making numerous decisions, which can be overwhelming, especially if their loved one’s passing was an unexpected occurrence. They may need help ordering the funeral flowers for the services and casket, handling the caterers for the memorial service that will take place after the burial, and of course, finding the right funeral home to handle all the details. All of these stresses compounded with the heavy sadness likely weighing on their heart and mind can make for an overwhelming few weeks. If you have a friend who recently lost a loved one and they’re struggling with their grief, make sure you’re providing support in the best way you can. Whether that be through silent and gentle care, taking charge of daily tasks, or helping them plan the funeral, there are many ways you can show your love and provide a pillar of support during such a difficult time.