Helping a grieving friend

It can be difficult to know what to do or say to a friend that has recently experienced a loss. We want to be comforting and help our friend, but it can be hard to understand such a substantial loss when you’re not in their shoes.

Grief counselor, Joy Bishop, shares how to console a grieving friend and be there for them during such an emotional time. We hope this advice can benefit those with a grieving friend, or those who are grieving themselves.

Everyone’s situation is unique- “Everyone has a different fingerprint,” Joy pointed out; Therefore, everyone will have a different grief journey. What many people don’t realize is that everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. Based on people’s individual emotions, people have various needs that need to be met during this time, and understanding these needs should help you to cater how you treat them as an individual. Many times, what someone needs one day may not necessarily be what they need the next, therefore it is important to read your friend and understand that their needs are constantly changing.

Understand their love language- Joy explained the importance of understanding your friend’s love language. Everyone has a love language that is unique to their emotional needs and understanding this is crucial to be there for your friend during this time. For example, if your friend’s love language is quality time, then they would benefit from you just being there and listening to them.

Don’t ask, just do- Oftentimes taking the initiative to help a friend out is the best approach. Many people don’t like to ask for help, and taking the action to help make their life easier is sometimes the best way to ease their stress. If your friends loved one always mowed the lawn each week, taking the time to mow their lawn will likely mean a lot to them. Run to the grocery store for them, or prepare meals for them as they will most likely not feel like doing either of these chores initially.

Little gestures make the biggest difference- Joy suggests making a point to remember holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and reach out to your friend to let them know you’re thinking of them that day. That gesture can mean a lot and help make your friend feel they’re not alone. If you live far away, send a card with a gift card or send flowers to let them know they’re feelings are important to you. At the end of the day, these gestures may seem small, but they often make the biggest difference.

Encourage them to take their time- It seems that our society expects grief to have a timetable. We take a week or so off from work and return to our routine as if nothing has changed, but Joy says this is not always the healthiest approach. “People get caught up in thinking there is a timeline,” Joy explained. When in reality, grief is an ongoing journey that doesn’t have a start or endpoint to it, and understanding this will help to console those who are grieving.