There is nothing more hard in life than experiencing a loss. Experiencing loss in any capacity can result in a whirlwind of emotions and pain. Sadness, anger, and pain are just some of those feelings we may go through when we lose something or a loved one. The key to getting through these difficult periods in life is to have someone who can provide us with support, emotional, or otherwise.
Knowing this, you may be looking for ways to lend this support to a friend or loved one who is coping with the loss on their own. But helping a bereaved person or close friend isn’t always straightforward or easy. You don’t want to say the wrong thing and make things worse, but you don’t want to abandon your bereaved friend either. This article will provide you with some tips on how to help a close friend who has recently lost a loved one.
If you have experienced the loss of something or someone important to you at some point in life, then you may have experienced grief first-hand. However, it can be difficult for us to help someone who is grieving if we do not know what they are going through. After all, we can’t learn how to help a person grieving without objectively knowing what their experience may be. Let’s take a closer look at grief, what grief will look like for certain individuals, and when grief may become something more concerning.
Grief is the process that we go through when we experience a major loss in life. This may be a result of the loss of a loved one such as a friend or family member (which is often referred to when we mention grief) or the loss of something important to us, like a job. When we experience grief, we will often go through an extended period of sadness and other emotions as we yearn for that which we have lost. The duration of this grief will be different for every person, but the feelings will often fade over time.
When we think about grief, we may think of something known as the stages of grief. These stages are presented as five states that we must work through in order to overcome our grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While this model is quite popular, it may not be as accurate as originally presented. These are states that we may experience, but it is unlikely that people go through stages of grief in such an organized manner. Rather, grief is characterized by sadness and longing. As we are coping with grief, we can experience many emotions (and not necessarily in order). It is important to know that your friend’s grief may not follow an easy, measurable path, as every grieving process is unique.
As some of us may know, a loss can be quite painful. These feelings, however, are perfectly natural, and we can often work through them with the support of others. In some instances, grief can develop into something more serious.
One example is complicated grief, which is acute grief often experienced after the loss of a loved one. Complicated grief may come with many of the symptoms of depression (or contribute to the development of depression if the grief is powerful enough). It can be hard to determine if a bereaved person is experiencing complicated grief at first because it is very similar to typical grief. However, complicated grief is primarily defined by how long the bereaved person has been grieving. While most people recover from their grief within a few months or a year, someone with complicated grief will still feel the same intense feelings as when they first lost their loved one. Even after a year or longer, they still struggle to move on in life or create a new normal.
If you believe that your friend’s grief has reached this stage, it is important that you reach out to them and let them know the importance of seeking out professional help. A mental health professional, such as a grief counselor, can help figure out why your bereaved friend has been unable to move on with life.
Even if you understand what your friend or loved one is going through, it can still be difficult to find the right words or actions to help them. Many people find themselves in a position of wanting to offer support to their friends in times of grief but don’t know what to say or do. We’ve provided a few tips to help you comfort your grieving friends.
The days and weeks immediately following a death or other loss can be the most difficult. It is during this time that someone who is grieving will need the most bereavement support. Though many friends and family members will be there initially, this support will lose momentum over time.
Therefore, one of the most important tips to remember if you are looking to provide support is to reach out regularly. Although your friend or loved one may feel overwhelmed or unsociable at times, knowing that they have someone to turn to when they need it is a major relief. Whether you choose to reach out every other day or every week, stick to a regular schedule and let them know that you are there for them. It will feel good to the bereaved person just knowing there is a safe space to talk about their feelings and experiences.
Providing emotional support is typically the main focus of people looking to help their friends through grief. However, this is not the only way you can offer support. You can also help out a grieving friend by doing things that they may not feel up to doing. For example, you can offer to do little things like make a meal for them or take out the trash. These small gestures mean a lot to those who are grieving. Additionally, it can reduce some of the stress that they are feeling as they attempt to get back to daily life. If you live nearby and you can, consider helping your friend in this way.
We all have different experiences when it comes to grief. This is due to the fact that our loss and the circumstances surrounding it will vary greatly. For example, a person may exhibit different grief reactions when their husband died as opposed to when their mom died. The way that we cope with this loss will also be different from the way that others cope with it. Because of these variables, it can be hard for us to provide the right words to others. The solution? Rather than trying to do this, take a listening approach, and be the person with whom they can vent their feelings.
Sometimes, sitting quietly and listening is the best approach because grieving people often just want to talk or vent out their feelings. For example, they may just want someone to know that they feel depressed about their loss or that they feel guilty about how they treated their loved one before their death. Whatever comes up, and in whatever manner, it may be best to just let them vent without interruption or telling them what to do.
If they do ask for advice, then you may want to tell them about your own personal experience. Otherwise, you can let them know that, while you don’t have the answer, you are willing to figure it out with them.
4. Do Fun Things That Will Help Take Your Friend’s Mind Away From Their Grief: “Would You Like to Go Somewhere or Do Something Today?”
We all have to deal with our emotions in order to get through them. That said, we all want a break from our emotions sometimes. One great way to support your friend is to act as that escape for them when they are feeling overwhelmed. You can do fun things with them like spend the day together, go out for lunch or dinner, see a movie, or even just spend time at their house. No matter what you may choose to do, it can be helpful for your friend to have a way to get their mind off of their loss. This can also serve to build the relationship between you two so that they know they can feel safe opening up to you when they need to do so.
No matter how you spend time with your friend, be patient with them and make sure to be open to talk about anything. Someone who has just lost a loved one may want to talk about a movie one minute and then their loved one the next. Grieving people can have strong and fluctuating emotions that are hard to control or predict. Grief can overwhelm them at any moment. So just because they are eager to talk about something fun or positive doesn’t mean that their grief has gone away. Be patient and supportive no matter what they talk about, and you will be helping them immensely on their healing journey.
Giving support to those who are not feeling their best is always a great thing to do. However, you have to understand that some people may feel overwhelmed at times and may not want to talk or spend time with anyone. Rather than welcoming the support as they normally would, they may instead want to be left alone to work through their thoughts. Some people may take this as their loved one not wanting support, but this may not be true. Instead, give them the space that they need until they feel ready to socialize again. Just because they are not ready now does not mean they will not need your support in the future.
Another important thing to remember when you’re looking to provide support for a bereaved person is that we may not always be able to give the right support. Their close friends and family will absolutely be a major source of support during this time. While we can listen and be there for them, they may need professional help to get through some of their more difficult feelings. If they are dealing with severe grief or depression, one way to help them is to suggest seeing a counselor.
For the most part, people will have counseling resources near them. If your friend manages to find a counselor near them that they connect to, that is excellent! With that in mind, however, it may not always be easy to find the right resources within a given area. If your friend is having trouble seeking out help, you may want to consider online counseling.
For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling resource that connects people to licensed therapists, from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Whether your friend is coping with grief as most people do, has complicated grief, or a serious mental health disorder like depression, they can quickly connect with a certified counselor when it is convenient for them.
Helping a friend navigate their grief starts with learning more about what you can do to offer the most support. Use the 5 tips provided above to figure out what your friend may be going through, what you can do to help, and how you can continue to support your friend over time. When in doubt, ask a mental health care professional for more guidance.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
How do you comfort a grieving friend?
What are some comforting words?
What do you write to a grieving friend?
How do you comfort someone with a word?
What the most comforting word?
What is a good short sympathy message?
What to say to someone who is grieving quotes?
What do you say to be supportive?
How do you uplift someone?
How do you console someone who is going through a hard time?
How do you comfort a grieving friend?
Comforting a grieving person or friend is a delicate matter as you don’t want to say the wrong thing. When emotional, we have all been known to take things the right or wrong way depending on our feelings and mindset at the time. However, there are a few ways that usually work when aiming to comfort a grieving friend or loved one.
If you don’t know what to say, you can offer condolences by simply stating “sorry for your loss” or “sorry to hear about what happened.” You can also acknowledge that you don’t know what to say but make it clear that you are there to help and support your friend during this difficult time in their life. Most people feel supported and cared for when their friends or family members simply acknowledge their support and love. No matter what comforting words you use, make sure to maintain eye contact and hear out what they have to say. Listening is just as important as speaking when comforting a bereaved person.
Another way to comfort a grieving friend or family member is to help them out with chores or errands. Most people don’t know how to move on with life or function normally after the death of a close friend or family member. Therefore, they may overlook certain chores or forget to run some errands. You don’t have to directly acknowledge that you noticed they are running behind on certain tasks but can offer the nice suggestion of helping out with something specific. Be sure not to judge them for forgetting to do things, as processing the death of their loved one is probably taking up most of their mental and emotional energy.
And sometimes just sitting quietly is the best way to help a grieving loved one. Some bereaved people just want to spend time with friends and not talk about anything. Or they want to talk about or share stories of their loved one to feel better. They may also vent about their grief and feelings and just need someone to listen. Therefore, one of the best ways you can comfort a friend is by offering a safe space for them to talk.
If you are religious, you may be tempted to mention something based on your or their faith, such as saying, “this is all part of God’s plan.” Unless you know for sure that the person would be uplifted by this, resist the urge to talk about anything religion or spirituality based. Even if they have the same faith, that doesn’t mean they will be in the mindset to think about their difficult time through a spiritual lens. Grief is an incredibly difficult situation for any bereaved person to experience and can be life-changing. Many people alter their beliefs or discard their religions during grief. Therefore, they may not want to talk about religion or think about God while grieving the death of a loved one.
You should also refrain from saying things like “he is in a better place” or that “time heals all wounds.” Though these may seem like comforting words, they often are not for someone who is grieving. The person may not believe that death takes people to a “better place” or that time will completely heal them of the pain they are currently experiencing. Grief is a life-altering experience, so sometimes these phrases can sound more dismissive than caring or supportive.
What do you write to a grieving friend?
Grieving the death of a loved one is hard no matter the circumstances, but it can be even harder for a bereaved person if they do not have a friend, family member, or special person nearby to support them during this time. Bereavement support is critical for healing, so offering your condolences through writing is a great option to show support.
However, it can be hard to know what to say. The death of a loved one is life-altering. A grieving loved one or friend may be in incredible emotional pain and confusion, not knowing how to move their life forward or return to normal. Knowing this, it’s understandable if you are afraid of saying the wrong thing. As long as you are genuine with your support and comfort, it will be hard to say the wrong thing. However, here are a few pointers to help you out.
Since writing a letter or email is more formal than talking with the bereaved person in real life, you should aim to be a bit more formal. Just saying “sorry for your loss” or “he is in a better place” won’t cut it, especially if you are close to this person. You want to write your feelings in a way that shows the depth of your emotion and care. For example, you can say, “I cannot imagine what you are going through but know that I will always be there if you need anything.” This shows that you understand that they are in incredible pain and are willing to help out if they need it.
You should also acknowledge the person who passed with a story or by highlighting how great they were. For example, you could share a heartwarming story or say something like “I always remember how kind and funny he was.” However, it is best to keep it brief and positive. Going into an overly detailed story may worsen the pain and make the bereaved person feel depressed. So just briefly mention how the loved one positively impacted your life and move on to how you can help during this time.
To do this, it is best to acknowledge that you are there for them in any form. Whether they just want to talk and have someone hear them out or need more practical help, let them know you are available. Just because you are far away or could not attend the funeral does not mean you can help your grieving friend. Make it clear that they can call you anytime and they will surely be appreciative.
What do you say to be supportive?
When you know someone who is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to say. You want to be supportive, but you don’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing. Here are a few pointers.
Avoid saying anything generic such as “sorry for your loss,” “I can’t imagine what you are going through,” or “I’m sure they are in a better place.” Though these aren’t necessarily bad phrases, they are fairly generic and don’t show the depth of your care and support. Someone who is grieving has just had their entire life changed by the death of a loved one, and they need someone who can help them while they heal and get their life back in order.
Instead, acknowledge the pain and hardship they are going through right now and simply state that you are there for them whatever they need. Perhaps they need emotional support and someone to talk about their feelings with, or perhaps they need more practical help such as running errands or doing chores.
But sometimes listening is more supportive than talking. Sometimes, grieving people just want to talk about their pain and feelings. They don’t want advice, they just want someone to support them by listening. Therefore sitting quietly and maintaining eye contact may be the best thing for your grieving friend or loved one.
What is a good short sympathy message?
Finding the right words to say to a bereaved person can be difficult. The death of a loved one is a life-shattering event, and finding comfort can seem impossible. When you are with someone who is grieving, it is easy to be overwhelmed by their loss and not know what to say. It can be even harder to craft a sympathy message if you are unable to be with them in person. Yet, it is important to show your love and concern through a thoughtful message. Here are a few phrases and messages to consider if you don’t know what to say in your message:
How do you console someone who is grieving or going through a hard time?
If you know someone who is grieving or going through a hard time in life, the best way to console them is by showing your support. Make sure they know you are available to help in any way they need. This could be as simple as spending time together to talk about the problem or helping out with errands or chores that they are too overwhelmed to deal with.
Though you may be tempted to try to cheer them up or give them advice, refrain from doing this. When going through difficult circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, most people just want to process the emotions on their own. They may do this by spending significant time alone or by asking a friend to talk with them about their situation. A bereaved person will usually directly say if they want advice. If your loved one does not indicate this, then just aim to console them by emphasizing your love and support and being available to listen to them talk.
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