In times of grief, its hard to find the right words.
Death makes people uncomfortable and being around someone who has recently lost a loved one makes people even more uncomfortable. What do I say? What do I do?
Most people are worried about offending the grieving party and want to convey their sympathies but are worried that their words sound insincere. Everyone grieves in their own way to process their feelings, loved ones need to respect this process of healing and be supportive.
My mother passed away last year from Lung Cancer, so I have first-hand experience of dealing with loss. Sometimes I even find myself saying those generic words of condolence -ughh. Why do we find it so hard to find the right words?
The best way to help a grieving friend is to show that you care in small ways. I have put together a list of ways to help :
1. Food. Take your friend food. Something that is already made that they can put in the microwave or oven. The last thing they need to worry about is “what to make for dinner”
2. Grocery shopping. One amazing friend of mine did a small grocery shop of basics and dropped it off at my home. Tea, coffee, bread, peanut butter, and milk.
3. Take their dog for a walk. It may seem like a pointless exercise, however looking after their furry best friend is a wonderful gesture to a friend in mourning.
4. Take care of the small domestic chores: Do the dishes, fold the laundry or bring in their mail. Small gestures are greatly appreciated.
5. Assist with funeral or memorial tasks. One of my mothers’ friends said she would handle the flowers and another handled the catering. Taking these small or larger tasks from a person who is grieving is an immense help.
6. Babysit. If your friend has children offer to babysit the children. Take the children to a play park or a movie. Give your friend some space to grieve. As a parent, we try our hardest to be strong for our children and don’t allow ourselves to feel those deep down pains of bereavement.
7. Run interference. Act a gatekeeper for your friend. The influx of well-meaning support can be overwhelming. By acting as a gatekeeper, you can convey everyone’s sympathies to the family while maintaining their privacy. Once they are ready to reply to all the messages they can do so, in their own time.
8. Check in from time to time even weeks and months later. Let your friend know that they are loved.
Don’t be afraid of saying their name. Just because they are no longer here on this Earth does not mean that they have vanished, their presence will be felt forever. It will bring comfort to the family that their loved one is remembered fondly.
If you cant find the words to convey your sorry just say “there are no words…” and give them a big hug.