Helping a Friend Through the Grieving Process
When a friend of yours is experiencing the loss a loved one, you may feel torn when it comes to speaking about it. You want to be there and allow them to grieve and express their emotions and feelings to you, but you may also fear that by bringing it up you might upset them.
Pretending everything is normal with your friend, in some cases, can make the grieving process worse. By vocalizing your support to your friend you are letting them know that you are there for them every step of the way and that you care, without having to bring up the death of their loved one.
First things first, it important that you familiarize yourself with the steps of grieving. By reading over these steps, provided by the American Cancer Society, you will have a better understanding of the place your friend is in and is experiencing.
Shock, disbelief or numbness – When a death first occurs things can be very busy with funeral arraignments, gatherings, and constant visitors. Your friend may not have a minute to sit alone and really feel his/her emotions. It is almost as if they are on auto-pilot at this time.
Confrontation with the loss – As things start to settle down and they begin to think and remember their loved one and the fact that they are not coming back, they will go through deep emotions and extreme feelings. This is the time your friend needs you the most.
Acceptance of loss – At this point, your friend will begin to manage their lives and deal with the loss on a day-to-day basis.
Here are some tips to help you support your friend as they go through the stages of grieving:
During the early stage of the grieving process, it is important to check in with your friend. It may seem easier to send a text message, Facebook message, or an email but it is much more comforting to hear the voice of a friend. Also Instead of saying “Call me if you ever need anything.” try calling your friend every so often or perhaps stopping by to offer help with something specific like a home cooked meal or groceries.
When you are talking with your friend be aware of the words you are using. Sometimes we say things from the kindness of our heart although it may be portrayed differently to a person who is in pain and hurting. For example, using phrases like, “They are in a better place now” or “Everything happens for a reason” These may cause anger in your friend either because of their belief system or the fact that they have no control over what has happened.
Lastly, remind yourself that your friend will get through this. They need you as a friend to be there for them and support them as they heal. It is important to listen without offering suggestions and simply allowing them to talk about their feelings. If you notice any sudden changes in your friend’s behavior or it has been a long period of time with no progress in their healing, know when to get help. You can gently suggest support groups or therapy.
If you have any other questions or would like to speak to the professionals here at Lietz Funeral Home, you can contact us here.