It’s difficult to support a friend or family member who has lost a loved one. What practical things can you do to help them? This is a practical guide that will help you navigate those awkward moments when you don’t know what to say, as well as some advice on what you can do to provide comfort.
Here are some seven ways to help when a friend or family member has lost a loved one.
“Is there anything I can do?” is a great question. However, it is too open ended. Often, people often don’t know what you can do or how you can help. Sometimes, trying to think of a way can make them more stressed. So, if you offer to help, be specific.
For example, “Can I come over tomorrow morning and do your laundry?” or “I can pick up a friend or relative at the airport?”
While a specific offer of help is good, it is sometimes better to just show up and do some basic work around the house.
Anything is better than nothing.
Many people think that talking about the tragedy is too painful or awkward, but talking about what has happened gives the grieving a chance to remember the person they have lost. It also gives them a chance to release any feelings they might be struggling with. Your presence shows support. However, acknowledging that they have lost a loved one gives them a chance to start processing their emotions.
Again, anything is better than nothing.
When you are with them, let them talk. Don’t feel like you need to fill the silences. Ask them how they are doing, and listen to what they have to say.
People are hesitant to laugh when someone is in mourning. They feel it would be disrespectful or rude. But laughter has healing properties, and being able to smile and laugh really helps.
It is natural to want to look on the bright side, to say that it could have been worse. But, for the person who has lost a loved one, it couldn’t have been worse. So don’t try to downplay it.
Often, this is the first thing we say to someone who has lost a loved one, but try to avoid it. When you say, “I’m so sorry,” how are they supposed to respond? “I’m sorry too”? “Yeah, this is really hard?”
More often than not, when you say “I’m so sorry,” the person ends up consoling you: “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”
Here are some appropriate responses when someone has lost a loved one.
Loss is not something ever goes away. There will always be times in which the loss is more prominent: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations.
Those are times to reach out and let your friend know that you are thinking about them, that you love them and that you remember them and their loved one.