The loss of a loved one is an extremely challenging experience. When someone you know is grieving, it can be difficult for you to offer them help. There is no one thing you can always do or say, but there are some general guidelines that when followed can show your support for someone in grief.
Don’t Look for a Solution
When someone is dealing with a loss, it is not the same as when they come to you with another problem. There is no solution or quick fix so you don’t need to have a suggestion or comment. Sometimes having someone to listen is all a grieving person needs.
Share, Don’t Compare
Many of us have lost someone close to us. You should feel free to tell your friend about how you felt or how you dealt with those feelings. You should not, however, try to compare the significance of their loss with yours. Even if you feel you lost someone closer to you than they did, do not comment on it. Because every relationship is different, you cannot expect their experience to be the same as yours.
Don’t Push It
If someone says they don’t want to talk, wait until they are ready. If you try to force them to talk before they are ready, they may feel pressured and lose their desire to talk to you when the time is right. Similarly, if you have discussed their loss and they want to change the subject, don’t prolong the discussion. Sometimes a grieving person just wants you to help them take their mind off their loss for a while.
Give Them the Time They Need
Everyone experiences loss differently. If it takes them longer to grieve than you expect, don’t rush them. Just because it took you a certain time to grieve doesn’t mean that others will be the same way. If you find that they are ready to return to normalcy earlier than you expect, don’t try to prolong their grieving process. In the end, each person knows their own feelings better than anyone else can.
Show Your Support
In the end, the most important thing to do is to show someone who is grieving that they have your unconditional support. An easy way to do this is to say something as simple as “I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am always here for you.” Grief is difficult enough that you never want to add any other burdens or expectations.
It is difficult to deal with grief, so never force someone into anything. If a person wants to talk, listen. If they want a distraction, distract them. If they want space, give it to them without feeling hurt. It is important to let someone know that you are there if they need you, but always let them decide what they need. Even if they don’t ask you specifically for something, they will appreciate your support and respect for their wishes.