Saturday, August 14, 2004

Supporting a Friend through Grief

People who are grieving may be reluctant to ask for help, even after receiving card after card stating, "Please let me know if there is anything that I can do." So instead of simply leaving things with that general offer, here are some specific things you can do to support a friend through grief:

1. Visit, phone, write or send flowers. Even if you feel like so much time has passed that it would now be awkward, don't hesitate to get in touch. Grief can last four to five years. It's never too late to offer condolances. In fact, since most of the cards arrive immediately, your friend may be in even more need of support when the condolances have trickled to a stop and yet the grief has continued on. An encouraging note, in particular, can be read and re-read whenever your friend feels particularly down.

2. Listen. Allow your friend to express whatever emotions arise. Avoid negating those emotions with cliches and instead respond with a simple "I'm sorry." Let your friend cry. Tears are a normal response to loss and are healing.

3. Bring a meal. Meals are welcome anytime - from the time of death until months after.

4. Offer to clean your friend's house. And will you clean mine while you're at it? ;-)

5. Be affectionate. Offer hugs. Give your friend inspirational music or writing.

6. Make plans to do things together - movies, dinner, or other fun events that will be distracting. Sign up to take a class together.

7. Offer to babysit.

8. Talk about the loss. Let your friend know that you are someone they can talk to about their feelings.

9. Spend time together. Visit often. Accept silence during your visits; your simple presence may be comforting enough.

10. Offer any special skills you have - with insurance forms, taxes or any other skills.

If your friend turns you down on any of these offers, don't give up. Try another one.

(Suggestions inspired by Victor Parachin's article in the June 1996 issue of "The Director," magazine distributed by the National Funeral Director's Association.)

1 comment:

Jennynyc said...

What great ideas, I hadn't considered some.