Advice on how to support a loved one
who is going through a rough time.
Ways to show support
It can be hard to know how to console a friend or relative who is grieving. If it seems that nothing you can do or say helps, don’t give up. You can’t take the pain away, but your presence is more important than it seems. Accept that you can’t fix the situation or make your friend or relative feel better. Instead just be present and offer hope and a positive outlook toward the future. Recognize that grief is a gradual process.
What to say and write in a text
How to Honor a Loved One On a Milestone Birthday
After losing a loved one, their birthday can be one of the most difficult days of the year. It is completely normal for people to experience conflicting emotions on their birthday. Milestone birthdays can make this day even more difficult, so we’ve compiled a list of ways to remember a deceased loved one on a milestone birthday.
How to help a grieving friend
Grief can feel incredibly lonely and overwhelming. When someone you know loses a loved one, they need your love and support more than ever.
If you are wondering how to help a grieving friend, there are many simple ways to show compassion during their time of need.
Here are some Do’s and Don’t’s
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Our most instinctive response to grief is to use words to try to comprehend the situation and to provide reasons for the loss. And, while those words are always coming from the best places in our hearts, there is no way to rationalize or even comprehend grief. We cannot remove the pain and sorrow, and our words must reflect this.
But what can you write on a card is that you want to let them know that you are hurting together with them! That you’re sorry. That you are involved. That your heart is hurting for them. That’s all. You don’t need to fix their pain, find a reason for their passing.
Anniversaries of grief experiences can be painful reminders of your friend’s loss each year. Try to keep in mind that the date of your friend’s loss, as well as holidays and birthdays, can be triggers for grief symptoms. Reach out to let your friend know that you are thinking of them.
After a loss, people often have good intentions about staying in touch but become busy with life and don’t follow through. Contacting your grieving friend on anniversaries and holidays can help reduce that feeling of loneliness and lets them know that their well-being matters to you.
Sometimes people have a misconception that talking about the deceased loved one will upset the bereaved. Most grieving people do want to talk about and think about their loved one who has passed, and by doing this, it helps facilitate the healing process.
Ask questions about the lost loved one, like what were their hobbies? Ask about the memories that your friend treasures. It may be that you are one of the few people your friend feels free to talk about their loss with. Encourage the conversation and memories about the deceased and just listen.
Grief is not a problem to be fixed. Your grieving friend only needs your loving support and presence. Attempting to do or say something to fix the situation will only leave you and your friend feeling more powerless. Remember that grief can’t be remedied by anything but time, support and compassion. If your friend feels you are trying to fix them or their feelings, they may start to view themselves as a problem, which may reduce their comfort in confiding in you and expressing their feelings openly.
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Because each loss is unique.
Platitudes should be at the top of the list of things to avoid saying to someone grieving. Phrases such as, “They’re better off now,” and, “She wouldn’t want you to be sad,” should be banned from all conversations with the bereaved. These common statements are surely meant with good intentions, but only placate and minimize the feelings of the person who is grieving.
The best thing you can offer someone who is grieving is a hug, a listening ear and a compassionate presence. No combination of words will make your friend’s pain go away. Don’t worry about saying the right thing because honestly, there is no right thing to say. Grief can be all-consuming. Just being present and offering love and kindness is all that matters.
To identify with their pain and offer support, you might be tempted to make comparisons about your losses in life. However, doing so is unnecessary and can often lead to frustration and anger for the person experiencing grief.
While it may be true that you have also experienced loss, use discretion when interjecting your experience. Only share and draw comparisons if the loss is very similar to that of your friend. Drawing inappropriate comparisons about grief can result in your friend feeling minimized.
When you are in the presence of someone who is grieving, it is often difficult to know what to say. Your natural tendency may be to try to make your friend feel better, but in a situation such as grief, no amount of talking will help.
Be sure to pay attention to the amount of talking you are doing compared to the amount of listening. Your friend will benefit more from talking about their feelings than anything else. Listen to their thoughts and feelings and express compassion for what they are experiencing in their grief process.