How to Help a Friend through the Grieving Process

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, April 29, 2016

If a friend has recently lost a loved one, you may feel hesitant to bring up the topic for fear of upsetting them. Silence from friends, no matter how well intentioned, or pretending everything is normal, can make the griever feel even more isolated and depressed.  

The most important thing you can do is to let your friend know that you care and will be there for emotional support and help.

Understanding the Basics of Grieving

  • There is no set timeline for recovery. The grieving process can go on for years, and your friend may feel an emptiness that may never completely go away. However with time, your friend’s pain will lessen.
     
  • Everyone grieves differently. Depending on the type of relationship your friend had with the decedent, whether it was an intimate relationship or a troubled one, will affect the grieving process and the feelings that follow.
     
  • Understand the stages of grieving.
  1. Shock, disbelief or numbness. The bustle and constant visitors that accompany a funeral may make your friend feel like they are on auto-pilot. They may not have had time alone to process their feelings.
     
  2. Confrontation with the loss. At this stage, your friend may feel intense feelings of loss and pain. Symptoms vary widely from depression, lack of appetite, withdrawing socially, anger to guilt. This is the time your friend needs your support the most.
     
  3. Acceptance of loss. Your friend has managed to deal with the loss in their daily life.

Be aware that people may put on a strong outward appearance which may not reflect how they are truly feeling.

Things Not to Say

  • “They are in a better place now.” Everyone has different beliefs about the afterlife. This statement might be against your friend’s belief system.
     
  • “It was part of a master plan.” This often brings out anger as the griever has no control over any master plan.
     
  • Avoid phrases that begin with, “You should…” These types of phrases often sound pushy, so instead rephrase your sentence with, “Have you thought about doing…”

Tips for Helping a Friend

  • Make a point of regularly checking in either by phone or in person. While it may be easier to communicate through social media or texting, it’s not quite the same as hearing a familiar voice.
     
  • Offer to help with something specific. Instead of saying, “Call if you ever need anything,” it would be more helpful to say, “I made a lasagna for you. When may I drop it off?”
     
  • Listen without feeling the need to offer suggestions. Many times, a grieving person just wants to talk about their feelings or reminisce about their loved one. The ability to simply listen is golden.
     
  • Be sensitive to special occasions. Feelings of grief are often more intense during special holidays such as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. Offer to spend the day with them, or extend an invitation to a dinner, but understand that they may just want to be alone.
     
  • Know when to get help. If your friend has shown a sudden change in behaviour or has displayed signs of depression for a long period (over a year), gently suggest they speak with a therapist or join a support group.

Arbutus Funeral Service is a family-owned funeral home in Langley, BC.  For help with all matters of funeral arrangements, please call us at 604-888-9895 or contact us anytime.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the letters you see in the image.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Celebration of Life Vs. Funerals

Conventionally, funeral ceremonies have been very predictable events, with very typical prayers, eulogies, hymns etc. While the objective of the funeral service is to provide some solace to the fam...

What is The Philosophy of Hospice Care?

Sometimes, dying can be slow, inevitable, and often emotionally draining. It takes its toll on the patient as well as their family members, making it the most painful journey for everyone involved....

How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Your Final Wishes

It’s difficult to discuss your final wishes with a loved one because death is such a sensitive topic. It can cause a lot of pain and grief to people left behind, which is why most hesitate to bring...

Cremation vs. Burial - How to Decide Which is Best?

Both cremations and burials are legal and ancient methods for disposing of a body. People have been cremating their loved ones for thousands of years and burying them for even longer. Deciding whic...

4 Funeral Etiquette Tips You Need to Know

Attending funerals is a way to say goodbye to a deceased friend or acquaintance and offering comfort to grieving individuals. It shows people the decedent was well-loved, which offers some consolat...

How to Write an Obituary Notice

An obituary or a death notice is a formal announcement placed on local publications to inform people of someone’s passing. A death notice is short, practical, doesn’t require many details aside fro...

What Goes Into the Expense of a Standard Funeral?

Funerals are a long process that involves a small group of professionals and a couple of different establishments. You need to hire a funeral director, reserve a place in a burial ground, need spac...

How Does Proper Goal Setting Aid in the Grieving Process

Most people set goals for themselves at some point in their lives. It helps them have some purpose and encourages them on to achieve something. In fact, goal setting is a very important aspect of d...

What do Funeral Directors do for a Family

When a loved one passes away, you have to manage a number of different things. In addition to planning the funeral service, you need to inform family and friends about the demise, organize for the ...

Understanding Funeral Pricing

Most people aren’t aware of exactly how expensive a funeral can be until they are actually confronted with the expenses suddenly. This process involves the services of various funeral home employee...