How To Support Someone Who Is Grieving: During And After A Loss
“Anyone can show up when you’re happy. But the ones who stay by your side when your heart falls apart, they are your true friends.” – Brigitte Nicole
With Awareness Comes Opportunity To Show Support
I’ve not always been a good friend. My friends have lost important people in their lives and, at times, I’ve found excuses not to attend wakes or funerals; instead, I’ve opted to send obligatory flowers or a card. As I reflect on this, I’m disappointed in myself. However, with awareness comes opportunity–the opportunity to sincerely show up for the ones we care about during their time of loss.
A friend and fellow writer, David Baumrind, beautifully articulates what he needed when grieving a loss.
“I mostly needed them to accept my process as it was. Meaning, I needed to express myself, my grief, my sense of loss, and be generally a mess. So for my good friends, they let me hang out and be a mess. They threw a few tidbits of affirmation my way . . . but mostly they were just present for me. I did not need answers, suggestions, fix it ideas, judgment, helpful hints, etc. That just stressed me out more. “
Suggested Read: What Not To Say To People Who Are Grieving
How To Support Someone Who Is Grieving
In The Midst Of Loss
So often, we feel helpless when a friend or loved one is grieving. To feel helpful, we try to make it better by offering words of advice or even an explanation for a loss. As good friends, we believe that’s what we are supposed to do. I know many people have heard or spoken the words, “At least they’re not suffering anymore.” or “Everything happens for a reason.” Advice, justifications, explanations, and so forth invalidate our loved one’s grief. Grief is incredibly personal. There are no words that will make everything okay. It’s a process that requires time and understanding from those who love us most.
Suggested Read: What You Can Do To Support A Friend During Loss?
After A Loss
After a loved one has been laid to rest, the cheerful flowers have wilted, and the casserole dishes of food are gone, it is then that an individual requires the most support. Struggling to find a new normal, battling against loneliness and isolation, and wrestling with profound sorrow are daunting tasks. Perhaps patience, acceptance, and presence are the most important gifts we can offer those who are grieving.
Only last week, my friend lost her mom. I failed to attend the visitation and funeral. Today, I am seizing the opportunity to invite her to dinner.