Losing someone close to you can be the most difficult ordeal you’ll ever have to face. My mother has been gone for five years now, and there are still times when the grief feels fresh and new. After my experience, however, I thought I’d always know what to say to someone who’s going through that kind of loss, but I was surprised to find out that it’s still hard. When someone you love is suffering, that helpless feeling can be overwhelming.
No matter how much you want to, you can’t bring back their loved one, so you can’t fix the problem. But you can make them feel like they’re not facing this alone.
Ways to Show a Grieving Loved One You Care
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be more difficult than you think. Your instinct will be to jump in and try to direct the conversation in a positive direction. But it’s likely your friend has no interest in hearing that their loved one is in a better place, that they shouldn’t feel so sad, that everything happens for a reason or any of the other platitudes that might come to mind.
Also, now is not the time to jump in with your stories of grief. In trying to relate to your friend, you may feel inclined to share. Often this is seen as one-upmanship or making it all about you. The best you can say if it seems appropriate is something like, “I know what you mean. I felt like that when my mom died,” and then quickly steer the conversation back to your friend. A quick validation of your friend’s feelings can be helpful–just be very, very careful.
Read: Tips for Depression
2. Give them time to grieve
There is no time limit on grief. Don’t make them feel like they’ve run out the clock on
your sympathy. Let them talk all they want about the person they miss or how they feel.
3. Give them your time
Give them the gift of your time, and not just right after the loss of their loved one. Over the next year, at least, check in on them. A lot of people feel an initial surge of support when
a loved one dies, but after the shock has faded they find they are all alone just when they need someone.
4. Continue with little gestures
Text them that you’re thinking of them, send them a video of a song they’d like, and just keep the little acts of love coming. Tiny gestures can mean everything and give them something to hold onto.
5. Feed them
People often don’t feel like cooking after a loss. Drop by with a frozen entree they can pop in the oven without any prep time. After the initial casseroles from well-wishers are gone, drop by and take your friend out to eat now and then or cook for them.
If you’re far away or you can’t schedule a time right now, consider buying them a food subscription for a week or two. Something like Home Chef takes away the burden of planning and shopping.
6. Pamper them
If they’re up for it, just get them away from it all. A day spa with some aromatherapy and
a massage may be just what they need. If you’re nearby, go with them and don’t just send them a gift card.
7. Send them a special gift
Laurelbox is a company that makes beautiful and sensitive gift boxes for those
grieving. You can purchase one geared towards your friend’s specific situation, or choose from their products and assemble your own, or even buy a subscription. They carry an abundance of self-care items such as flower teas, prayer shawls, lockets, candles, leather-wrapped journals, and more. You choose the box and card online, add your personalized message, and they send it for you.
Difficult times can either pull us apart or forge stronger relationships. Being there for your friend now is one of the best contributions you can make. Good luck!