Supporting a friend or loved one during grief and loss can be difficult. It is often challenging to know what to say, and many people feel awkward when they try to provide support.
Here are some suggestions to consider when supporting someone who is struggling with grief and loss.
- Listen to them. This may sound simple, but it can be challenging. In these situations people may attempt to fix what is wrong or try to give advice. Listening to the person and asking them about their feelings can be far more helpful than trying to give advice to fix something.
- Avoid making the conversation about you. Making comments like, "I know what you're going through," or "this same thing happened to me," shifts the focus to your experience. Everyone's experience of grief is different.
- Be empathetic by making statements like, "I'm here for you," or "take your time, this is hard.” This allows the person to express how they are feeling.
- Consider activities you enjoy doing with the person. Simply spending time talking about something other than the loss or going to an event you both enjoy can be beneficial. It provides the person with a distraction and may give them some relief for their emotions.
- Finally, make plans instead of asking someone what they want to do. If you make yourself available and leave it up to the grieving person, the person is likely to not reach out and take you up on your offer. Instead, make plans with the person like, "I'll be here at 6 p.m. to pick you up," or "let’s go to the park.” When you make a commitment, follow through.
Remember, you cannot take your friend or loved one’s pain away, but you can be an important part in helping your friend or loved one through the grieving process.