How to help a greiving friend

Supporting those in Acute Grief

Community support is often needed and people do not always know how to ask for help.

 Resources: – Easily set up a page where people can donate to the individual or family – Easily organize times and days for friends and family to deliver meals

Important Considerations:

  • People grieve in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
  • Some people take a great deal of time; others need less. Some cry a lot, others do not. Some express anger and depression. All of this is okay and a normal process.
  • Give people the space, time and support that they need.
  • Ask the person what they need rather than assuming what they need.
  • While it is difficult to see people hurting, know that this is a natural part of the process.
  • Continue to check in on your grief-stricken friend well after the incident.
  • Bring your grieving friends food (prepared, fresh, re-heatable meals that consider their dietary needs such as gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, etc.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Offer your help. Your friend might want company on mundane tasks such as laundry, cleaning, cooking, to not drive, or to simply not be alone, etc.
  • Grief challenges cognitive functions. Normalize this, and support the person where she/he is struggling. ie: balancing a check book, paying bills, remembering dates can be really challenging.
  • Be sensitive. Listen to where they are at. Depression and withdrawal are a common part of the grieving process. Knowing that you care and are there can be some of the best medicine.
  • Laughter is great medicine if the other is willing. Be mindful of not forcing cheerfulness.
  • Be present rather than trying to distract them. This entails learning to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings.
  • Visit their home. In the midst of processing grief, it can be much harder to motivate to go out and be in social environments.
  • In the event of the death, mention the name of the deceased. Be mindful of avoiding using the deceased name.
  • People grieve for ALL kinds of reasons. ie: divorce, loss of a pet, aging, death of a loved one, any transition like moving or changing jobs. Offer permission to the person that is grieving and that it is okay to be grieving this aspect of their life. Given our current culture of repression and denial of difficult situations, validating feelings is part of the healing process.

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