When someone is grieving, it can be hard to know what to do. How to console them, how to let them know that you understand their pain, and most of all how to be there for them during daily life. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to being there for someone in your life when they lose someone important to them:
1) Reach out: Acknowledge the loss for your friend and reach out to them to let them know you’re there. After a loss, they will be blindsided. Take the initiative and let them know you’re sorry for their loss and how you’re there for them. Whether it’s in person, a phone call, or an e-mail/letter. Just reach out in any way possible.
2) Listen more, talk less: We understand, this is a tough one. You want to keep telling your friend that “I’m here for you”, “What can I do to help you?”, etc. The best thing you can do is just listen. Your friend has experienced a loss, so let them get their words out and just be there for them. If there is a dark side to the passing, don’t be afraid to listen to it. Listen intently and with genuine curiosity, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, but understand that there may be things your friend may not want to get into right away, and that is just okay. Know your friend may start crying and you might too. That’s fine, because sometimes actions like tears may speak more than words do.
3) Reminisce: If you knew the deceased, share memories or photos of them with the grieving. If you didn’t know them, then ask to hear a story about them. It’ll show your friend that while their loved one may be gone, the memories of them are still there and deserved to be shared with others.
4) Check in later: Grief has no timetable and people still may be dealing with its effects even months later. Make sure to check in later and see how they’re doing, maybe invite them out to lunch or a cup of coffee and see how they’re coping with the loss.
5) Don’t ignore them: Rejection makes us all scared, but don’t let that fear stop you from reaching out. You can be worried about saying the wrong thing, but willfully ignoring them is worse. You don’t have to be there 24/7 for them — we all have our own lives too — but a simple reaching out and offering condolences is better than ghosting them.
6) Don’t compare: Every loss hurts. Whether it’s a father, a child, or a pet. Every grief is different and there is no reason to compare. Just work on being there for them and allowing them to work through their grief.
7) Don’t rush: Grief is different for everyone. Whether it was a father who lived to the ripe age of 90, or the loss of a child. Each loss is an intense experience, and an individual never gets over a loss — they only learn to manage it.
8) Don’t let fear stop you: It’s understandable to be worried how to reach out to someone. Maybe they want to be left alone, maybe they’ll want to vent and you don’t know how to help them in their time of need; these are all valid reasons, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out. What your friend needs to know more than anything is that they have a network of friends and family who are there for them, even in the smallest ways possible.