Sharing & Caring With Friends

Helping Others After a Loss

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No one wants to talk about the awfulness when a dear friend or family member loses a child, or a spouse, or someone they were very, very close to.  Today, I will be sharing some thoughts and helpful tips how to help a friend in crisis – at whatever stage of grieve they are experiencing.  Whether a week ago – or several years ago – it takes time to work through the stages of grieving, and the timing may be different from person to person.

I have learned that grief is a “process”, and everyone deals with their loss differently.  Honestly, I never knew this reality until I experienced it myself with losing my parents 7 months apart.  And, we can’t rush the process for anyone, and we certainly can’t go through it for them.  What we can do is be by their side – if that’s what they wish – or we can just wait and let them know we are ready to help them should they need us for anything …even if it is just to talk!

old boat in the stormy ocean

Some of the things I have learned when a close friend or family member has experienced such loss:

  • You must be ready to help your friend on her timetable – not yours! All of this takes time…. she may not be ready to talk to you on the phone or see you, but when and if she is ready, please try to be there for her!
  • Be practical in her time of need – offer to run errands for her, pick up her kids from school, run to the grocery store, drive her, and run errands with her. She may not want to drive alone and may not be up to handling her responsibilities yet by herself.
  • Be willing to listen – no matter how much or little she talks. Be sincere and sit in silence unless she wishes for you to talk.  This is a time to let her get it out, so please try not to offer advice and just listen.
  • Please don’t say things like “I know how you feel”, or “Are you ready to get on with your life”? (We really can’t know how she feels, and we don’t want to push her into anything she is not ready for.)  For instance, I told my dear friend, Lori, after her loss of her oldest daughter: “I will never tell you I know how you feel because I don’t. You won’t hear those words from me.” 
  • Call her just to “check in” with her, text her with a short message, or send her a thoughtful notecard. (I have another sweet friend who tragically lost her son…. I would send her little text messages letting her know I was thinking of her.  She expressed to me, “Clare, you don’t know what your messages mean to me.  I so appreciate them!” 
  • Just be there for your friend and listen, listen, listen! Just listen with open arms and open ears, or just sit in silence together if she is not ready to talk at all.
  • Offer to go out with her. Maybe a nice lunch out, an uplifting movie, or taking a nice long walk would be just the thing to make her day.
  • When months have gone by – and most of the “visitors” have come and gone – be there for her. This is when she will need you the most.
  • Gently ask if she has considered trying out a support group and offer to go with her if she would rather not go alone. 

Hospice provides grief services:

While grieving takes time, here are some signs that you might want to encourage your friend to see professional help:

  • Neglecting personal hygiene;
  • Engaging in excessive alcohol or drug use;
  • Talking about dying, suicide, or ending the pain;
  • Having difficulty functioning or completely withdrawing from daily life.

Should she need help finding a therapist, the American Psychological Association can help  her find a therapist:

Beautiful blue sky background with clouds and sun

I hope these tips will help you to be a good friend to someone special during their time of grief and need.  Be there for her – she needs you now more than ever!

~Clare

Author
Clare is a 57-year-old fun loving Italian-American self-proclaimed “Jersey Girl” who believes, “Life ain’t easy street. Life is one of those crazy little city streets, complete with potholes that could swallow your car.” With one foot planted in fun and the other planted firmly in her Christian faith, Clare enjoys making people laugh while helping them navigate life’s “crazy little city streets”. Clare has raised two girls (now grown young adults) with her husband, Michial, Clare is ready to take on the challenges of making new friends through her blog, Life Ain’t Easy Street. With an aim to entertain while addressing topics important to women, Clare’s focus on the positive power of good stories, good friends, inspiring women, and strong faith will have you looking forward to reading the next post. Clare is a freelance writer who lives a real life in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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26 Comments

  • candy says:

    Beautifully written and wonderful advice. It is the months later when people forget when they may need someone the most.

    • Clare says:

      Thanks Candy… and I so agree – it’s months later usually when people need a good friend or just someone to talk with over coffee! 🙂

  • Malissa says:

    Clare! Thank you for this! I have never dealt with loss (knock on wood) and I never have ANY clue how to handle it. It’s just a super awkward thing that I tend to avoid because I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. Thanks for the tips, they definitely are useful. Are there different tips for men going through this?

    Thank you!! <3 -Malissa

    • Clare says:

      Well, it is difficult and every person and situation is different – I think the main thing to do is “show up” and be there – for whatever those needs are – big and small and mostly just to listen! Thanks!

  • This is so beautiful. I love how honest direct and real you are here! My best friend recently lost her mother, and it was tragic. This rings so true with everything and it’s such a good reminder for me! I needed it!
    xoxo
    Krista
    http://www.hundredblog.com

    • Clare says:

      Thanks Krista – I have been on both sides of this. So so sorry for your best friend – I would suggest you just be there for her – through thick and thin! 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    Awesome tips and beautifully written! Thank you.

  • Starla J says:

    Clare, these are great points and tips. Thank you for encouraging us to tread gently with friends that have lost a loved one.

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks I may actually be needing this sooner rather than later

  • Karen Dowd-Hansen says:

    Really good advice, Clare! I think that most of us have unfortunately been there, and you are so right! Nobody knows how you are really feeling. Just being available, and supportive, are enough. Nobody wants to hear cliches.

    • Clare says:

      So true, Karen. No one can experience any of this for you! Just “showing up” and being there. I appreciate your sharing from the heart! 🙂

  • Brooke says:

    Beautiful. Great advice. Thank you!

  • Marie says:

    much needed because so many have no clue what to say or do. they feel awkward.

    one thing I would add is to remember the firsts after the loss. the first birthday, christmas, other holidays are the worst. Send a card, letting them know you are thinking of them.

    • Clare says:

      Goodness – so true, Marie, and thank you so much for sharing this! The “firsts” of everything is so difficult…. sending a card is such a wonderful wonderful thing to go! I remember on my first Mother’s Day after my Mom died… one of my dear friends sent me a Mother’s Day Card…. so thoughtful. And the two year anniversary of my Mom’s death – one of my best friends dropped off flowers with a card! I will never forget these kind gestures for sure!

  • These are all really sweet reminders. My Step Dad passed in April and my Mom has been grieving since. I do my best to listen and check in with her as much as I can, but it is hard because I have two children and one on the way. I am really proud of her she has reached out to friends and she found a great church group.
    xo, Nicole

    • Clare says:

      Oh Nicole – I am sure your mom knows you are doing the best you can – it’s hard with two small children and wow a third on the way! Congratulations and so glad your mom has reached out and has some friends in her new church group! That’s wonderful!

  • jehava says:

    What a great and helpful post! I have had friends recently loose loved one and sometimes you feel clueless of what exactly to do!

    • Clare says:

      So glad you found this post helpful! It is so hard when a dear friend or family member loses someone… and each situation and person seems to be different! Glad this has helped!

  • Such great tips for helping grievers. Grief is a beast and when it hits, people don’t often know what they need from others, and others don’t know what to give. Great list!

    • Clare says:

      Thanks Lana – yes the recipients can’t even think most of the time and the givers often don’t know what to do… and I have found that timing is everything, also! Thanks!

  • Dorothy Thrower says:

    One thing to do is offer to take the person shopping before the memorial service. Sometimes they just need something fresh and new and lunch. And so appreciate someone to drive them. For a while they are are doing something normal maybe they haven’t done in a while. The most thing said is ” I wish those who came would come back”

    • Clare says:

      Such a wonderful suggestion, Dorothy! And so true – often times women need to run out to get a new outfit. Yes… .”coming back” is so key! Thanks for your suggestions!

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