When a friend experiences a loss, it’s hard to know what to say. These situations can be awkward and stressful. You want so badly to comfort and help your friend, but you’re overcome by the inability to find the right words. This is normal and somewhat expected. Remember that the mere fact you’re worried about trying to find the perfect way to comfort your friend is a sign you really care.
They say actions speak louder than words, and this certainly applies to times of grief. When someone is grieving they’ll typically have a hard time identifying their needs. So when you ask how you can help, they may not be able to articulate what they really need. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer, it’s always good to let them know they can come to you if they think of anything. However, sometimes it’s just best to meet needs has you see them. If the trash is full, take it out. If the lawn is overgrown, mow it. If they don’t have the energy to cook, bring them meals.
When it does come time to talk, keep this in mind:
- Don’t try to fix the situation
- Focus on what they’re feeling
- Recognize the loss
- Don’t try to rationalize or mitigate the loss
- Don’t put a timeline on the grief
- Keep the focus on them
- Don’t tell them what to do or how to feel
Helping someone through the grieving process will have many twists and turns. Some days they might need you there and others they might need space. Be flexible and sensitive to their changing needs, and don't get discouraged if they have a bad day or two. Just being constantly available is one of the best ways you can help.