Like many people, I am not very good at handling situations where other people are dealing with grief or loss. I never know what to say, and I find it difficult to adequately convey my concern and sympathy in a genuine and thoughtful way.
Recently, one of my husband’s close friends experienced a family tragedy. It was an unexpected type of tragedy, and it was accompanied by unresolved questions, deep emotions, and a soul shattering grief that was palpable. The tragedy in question was not something that anyone in his circle of friends had ever had to deal with, and it was the type of situation that most people are completely unprepared and unequipped to handle on their own or on someone else’s behalf.
Yet, in the midst of heartache and grief, I noticed that a group of guys, who are often
what I like to refer to as loveable jerks, were able to rally around their hurting friend, and do something that I have never been able to do. They were able and willing to set aside their own feelings of inadequacy, awkwardness, and discomfort, to wade in, and walk through the grief with their friend. In the midst of an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, they were able to display the perfect amount of love, care, sympathy, and support. Not only that, but they were also able to do it in a genuine and nonintrusive way that is not easily duplicated.
While observing them during that time, one major thing that I noticed was that it was more about their actions than about the words that were actually spoken. Based on the actions of my husband and his friends, here are 5 ways that I learned you can be a good friend during someone’s time of grief.
- Simply be There.
This is perhaps the most obvious thing you could do, but it is also the hardest because it can be very uncomfortable and awkward. Being there might mean that you are available as a listening ear, or it might mean that you simply sit with your friend in silence. However, the point is that you are there and available for whatever they need from you.
- Take Food or Groceries to the Family
Grief and loss are often accompanied by unanticipated bills and additional strain on time and resources. A thoughtful meal or a bag of groceries can truly go a long way toward helping to relive some of the strain, and it is an easy but impactful way to let a friend know that you care.
- Reach out and check in
In the same way that you may not be quite sure how to be there for a friend, it may be just as difficult for your friend to reach out to you to ask that you be a listening ear, or to help them feel less alone. Rather than making them reach out to you. Be proactive about checking in. If the situation calls for it, you can go a step further and volunteer to act as a go-between or relay important details and updates to other friends or family members of the person, so that they do not have to deal with the burden of reaching out and relaying details and updates when they likely have more pressing matters on their mind.
Depending on the circumstance, and depending on the friend, you may be able to express your concern by making a monetary donation. As previously mentioned, grief and loss are often accompanied by unanticipated expenses and even a small donation shows that you care and provides funds that were not previously available.
- Don’t Disappear After the Smoke Dies Down
During the time leading up to a funeral or right after a tragic event there are often a lot of people and there is often a lot of noise and attention surrounding the person dealing with the grief. However, it is my understanding that it is often times after all of the noise dies down, that the person may feel the most emotional and alone. While it may be easy for many people to attend a funeral, pray through a major surgery, etc., and then go back to their ordinary lives, it is important to remember that the person dealing with the grief is living their ordinary life, and they still need your love and support.
I hope that you are able to walk away from reading this article feeling more prepared and better equipped to be a good friend to someone dealing with grief. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not always the deep and profound gestures that truly matter the most. Sometimes it’s the quiet, thoughtful, seemingly insignificant gestures that are actually the most genuine and that make the biggest difference. They are also often the gestures that provide the most comfort and care as well.
Be Good to Someone You Love Today!