Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How to be Helpful to a Greiving Friend

Grieving has no season. Several folks have brought up the issue of how, now that the traditional Holiday Season is passed, they feel a surge of grief related to a recent loss. I wanted to share some tips modified from information on PsychCentral, on this important topic.

Often, I find that close friends who want to help just don’t know what to say or do. Indeed, sometimes we can say things that unintentionally make matters worse. Even if you are trying to help yourself through a difficult loss, I hope this helps. But, please don’t try to go through your grief alone; there are people who care and people helping you can really make a difference.
You can locate the entire PsychCentral article at <>

Here are some Practical Tips to Consider

Take action and do something specific that you think can help the grieving person. The well-intentioned offer, “Call if you need anything” usually is not enough.
Encourage healthy expression of thoughts and feelings.
“Do you feel like talking?”
“I don’t know what to say, but I care, and I am here.”
“I can listen, and that might help you.”
“Please don’t worry if you cry in front of me.”
If your friend uses email, keep close contact through short emails (this is not to replace other tips, but needs to be part of the overall action plan).
Help create new traditions and memories.
Help put regrets into perspective; no life is perfect.
Help your friend look to their faith community for extra support.
Urge discussing their grief with a behavioral health professional or even their primary care physician, if you feel this is more than you feel comfortable handling.
Plan for difficult times/dates well-ahead of time (anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, mealtimes). The key here is to not be caught off guard with a surge of anniversary or nostalgic grief. Getting through the year of “firsts” can be particularly troublesome for many.
Help clean out the loved one’s things.
Encourage your friend to take care of their physical and behavioral health, and be a good role-model in the process.
Be patient and be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotion. Grief is a process that takes time.
Remain doing what a good friend would do: Put your good intentions into consistent, helpful, supportive and caring actions.

All comments welcome on this important topic


m said...

Excellent and helpful suggestions.

lilsam said...

These suggestions are so true. I lost my dad on Christmas day years ago and in the process of it all I met a friend that was so supportive, understanding and caring. It seemed like no matter how many times I tried no to talk about the loss, he still listened and let me know he was there for me.

Anonymous said...

i have a friend who recently lost their spouse> we dated briefly in high school> the loss has only been 6 months and this person has been confiding in me and i have been helping them grieve, we talk about everything and cry together and laugh things are good and we are comfortable with each other. we actually have talked about hings that most people wouldnt the problem is we are moving from a very comfortable friendship into a relationship. we have kept this from the teenage kids. how do we introduce me to the kids and how long do we wait. concern is will it look bad what is the ettiquette time to grieving. i feel that this person will always love the deceased spouse and we both can handle that. Help!!!want to take cae of kids properly