How to Help a Friend Who Recently Lost a Loved One
Friendship isn't just about fun nights out and affectionate heart-to-hearts.
One of the most important times you can be a true friend occurs when your fellow squad member is faced with grief. Sadly, we will all experience a certain amount of sorrow in our lives, and it's in those unfortunate moments that we need our close pals the most.
Keep scrolling to see how you can help your grieving friend.
Let Them Feel Their Feelings
In the aftermath of a loss, it can be difficult to make sense of the world and create a coherent idea of what exactly you're dealing with. Every person grieves differently, and it's possible that your friend's grief may manifest in ways that seem strange to you. No matter how their expression presents itself, you have to remember that they are the ones dealing with the loss, and allow them to feel each new emotion without judgment of their coping techniques. Don't try to push them towards a particular reaction, but instead allow them to experience grief in their own way, and simply be present while they work through this difficult time.
(Riverdale via The CW)
Focus on the Present
When trying to comfort a friend, sometimes it feels easier to focus on good times in the past or point out hope for better times in the future. However, when your friend is dealing with a loss, talking about the past or future can feel like you are minimizing their feelings. The fact that they were happy before isn't helpful in this moment, and the idea that they will be happy again doesn't make their pain any less real. Instead of pushing them to escape their pain, allow them to live in it by focusing only on the present. It will be hurtful and very difficult, but they have to face these emotions in order to effectively cope with them. Take each moment day by day, and don't downplay their pain by forcing them out of the present.
Let Them Know You're There for Them
The best thing you can do for a grieving pal is let them know constantly and consistently that you're here for them. Most people don't like to ask for help, so it's important that you continually tell your friend that you're available for whatever they need. If you feel like you're saying it too much, you're probably barely saying it the right amount. Making your presence and your ability to help your friend known will make it easier for them to ask for what they need, and it will let them know that they're not alone in dealing with this difficult time.
(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)
Understand That It Isn't About You
Being there for someone in pain is not an easy task. Seeing someone you care about hurting can take a huge toll on your emotional well-being, and it's very likely that your friend will struggle to effectively deal with their feelings. This might result in them lashing out at you or making you feel unappreciated or ignored. Whatever happens between you and your friend during this time, you have to understand that it isn't about you. They're not lashing out at you because you're a bad friend. It's part of their healing process, and part of your role in that is understanding that your feelings have to take a back seat during this period of time. As they recover, they will likely be grateful for your patience and understanding, and you'll feel much better know that you were able to put your own feelings aside and help a friend in need.
Don't Force the Issue
Although it might seem like your friend should only want to talk about their loss, it's important to keep in mind that everyone grieves in different ways. If your friend isn't ready to open up about their feelings or if they don't want to spend all their time wallowing in their sorrow, you shouldn't force the issue. Forcing someone to talk about a loss when they don't want to is insensitive to their feelings. The best thing you can do is let them know that you're here when they do want to talk, and then let them open up at their own pace.
(Riverdale via The CW)
Find Specific Ways to Help
While letting someone know that you're here for them is important, it's still likely that your friend won't know how to ask for help when they need it. In fact, they might not even know what they need from you, so finding specific ways to help allows you to effectively support them without them having to ask for it. This could include bringing them a lunch everyday, stopping by their house on your way home from school or taking it upon yourself to gather any homework or assignments they might miss while they recover. These specific actions will show your support to your friend, and it will allow you to feel like you're actually helping rather than just telling them how much you can help.
Even if your friend isn't dealing with a loss, there are other ways to be there for a friend in need. Click HERE to see how you can successful help a friend deal with a breakup.