“It’s never easy to find the right words to say. Whether a friend is stressing over a family hardship or experiencing a bad break up, it’s a pretty tough job to make someone feel better. For some of us, supporting people going through a difficult time can be confusing or awkward, no matter how much we want to be present for them. Below are some suggestions that might be helpful. Not all of these will apply to every situation, so use them only if they feel appropriate.”
Grief can make decision-making difficult, and other things to keep in mind.
When a friend is grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to feel helpless. Sometimes we think we’re doing the right thing by trying to cheer them up, pointing out the positives or letting them know that they should try to move on. Well-intentioned as we may be, those efforts tend to put pressure on them and leave them feeling invalidated. Here are eight ways to help you support your friend in times of need.
- Let go of time expectations. The person grieving may struggle for longer than expected. If this happens, regardless of how frustrating or frightening it may be for you, let them grieve for however long they need, knowing you won’t judge them for it. Take A Deep Breath: 3 Ways To Help You Stop Worrying
- Recognize the stages of grief. Most people suffering a loss will go through these stages, often in no particular order and sometimes repeating stages: denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Each one is healthy and necessary. The more familiar you are with these stages, the better equipped you’ll be to support your friend.
- Variables to grief. One person’s grief is never the same as another’s. Variables include the cause and length of death, the personal resiliency of the grieving person, what their previous experiences have been, how large their support network is and their relationship to the person lost. Be understanding of how this can change their experience of grief from your own or someone else you have known.