Grief is an unfortunate part of everyone’s life at some point. While you can’t take away the pain of a grieving friend who has lost a parent, sibling, child, or other loved one, some things will help.
There are several phases to grief, and the first one is denial or doubt that the loved one has died. Your role as a friend is not necessarily say anything, but physical comfort is welcoming. That hug that says, “I know you feel bad,” is sometimes the moment that will be most remembered to the grieving friend.
Sometimes saying nothing is the best thing. People know their friends well and can intuitively know what to say or not to say. To say that the person is better off is not good, but to say they are out of pain now is comfort. This is especially true when the loved one has endured a long battle with a terminal or painful illness.
The next phase of dealing with the grief is contacting other loved ones or friends who need to know of the death. One of the best things a friend can do is assist in making these painful calls. This would also include contacting a local funeral home for services or visitation or a church, temple, or other houses of worship if that is desired.
Offering to go along to the funeral home or house of worship to set up services or pick out a coffin or burial urn will be appreciated. The grief-stricken friend may feel so overwhelmed and often unsure of how to even go about planning a funeral. Any insight, assistance, or guidance that can be offered will be welcomed.
Anger is also a phase of grief that can have the grieving person lash out at anyone in their paths. This is a common reaction, and as a friend, just let it ride its course. The friend will try to blame someone for the death, to take responsibility for it, and will be angry at the caregivers, guardians, nurses, or doctors that tried to aid the loved one.
just this month, i was consoling a friend when he was venting and afterwards he said “you’re the first person to actually tackle my problem. with anyone else they’d just deflect the conversation and send memes”
it’s really sad how people can be so grateful for common decency
— RT (@rune_ined) January 26, 2020
Often they will blame a spouse, sibling, or even God and verbally vow that they hate them. Hugging and consoling the friend and allowing the moments to pass is best.
After the Services
During the services and funeral, people generally have friends and family gathered who comfort, console, and remember. This is generally the best time for the grieving friend if you can call it that. However, this is the time when surrounded by loved ones, and dear friends do the time pass quickly, and other topics are brought up, as well.
Happier times are remembered, pictures sorted, and reviewed. It is days after the services and funeral when everyone has gone home, that the grief can hit hardest. Be prepared for that. Again, physical contact and consolation are comfortable and well as just listening to your friend’s stories of their life with the loved one. It doesn’t seem like much, but it means a great deal to have someone to talk to and to have to listen to.
The grieving friend should be encouraged to continue to eat and take in nourishment to allow them to carry on daily activities. Offering a cooked tray of food that was either homemade or store-bought will let the grieving friend to not worry about cooking and cleaning up.
They can be encouraged to partake in meals more easily. Offering assistance in taking children to or from school for a couple of days can help the friend adjust and better cope with other tasks that are required. As long as your heart is truly in it, consoling a grieving friend will long be remembered as the act of a good friend.