As a self-pronounced “Grief Nerd,” I often have people asking me questions about how to help their friends or family members with their grief after a loss (be it death, divorce, relationship, miscarriage, etc.) Here are my top 3 tips:
1) Do something practical
So often after a loss, the griever is in a “daze.” They have so much to think about such as funeral planning, legal arrangements, medical bills, etc. Grievers are taking care of so much, that it becomes difficult to take care of themselves. However, most grievers don’t know how to ask for such things. Saying “What do you need?” or “What can I do?” is nice but will probably illicit the response, “I’m good, thanks.” Instead, offer something practical. Here are a few of my favorite things to offer or receive:
Meals-can be homemade or bought, comfort food or healthy. Please just ask for food allergies ahead of time.
Meal gift cards- This is one of my favorite. Money can get tight surrounding these events. Gift cards for gas, meals or coffee can help out a lot
Go to the grocery store and pick up essentials- I have offered to pick up everything from milk and bread to sanitary pads for new mommies and mommies no-more.
Take care of children for awhile
House/furybaby-sit if loss requires travel
2) Offer support
People grieve in a variety of ways. Some people grieve out loud while other grieve in silence. Offering support by simply being there for your friend is one of the most important gifts you can give someone.
I LOVE the scene in Inside Out (TM) where Bing Bong (Riley’s imaginary friend) looses his wagon in the pit of memories. Joy comes to try to cheer him up…but sadness knows what to do. She sits there. Acknowledges his sadness and cries with him. That is what people need. Someone to just sit in their pit with them. They need someone to be okay in that dark place and to provide light when desired.
Watch the scene here.
3) Don’t forget them
So often, grievers get a lot of love directly following a loss. They need this love then, but after awhile the multitude of supporters seem to dissipate. Continuing to check on and offer support to the griever after the loss may be the best thing you can do to help a friend. To a griever, the world has stopped. They are adjusting to a world without their loved one. This is a process. This takes time. The first week and month following the loss is a good time to be there, but at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months…after most people have moved on, check in. Be there in the “ick” with them. Let them know they are not alone in this journey through grief.
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