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Helping a Friend Who Has Lost a Loved One – By Tamara Jones

Dealing with a loved one’s death is truly one of the hardest yet unavoidable events that happen in a lifetime.

If your friend is grieving the loss of a family member or close friend, do all that you can to be there for them during this terrible time. From picking up food to helping with funeral costs, being a friend means being there in any way you can.

Listen, Don’t Tell

It’s understandable to want to give your friend inspiration and words of encouragement, but in times of great grief, words simply won’t do. The best thing you can do for your friend is listen, which can be harder than it seems. There is no fixing, there is no solution, there’s just being there for them through the good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes when we try to look at the bright side too quickly, it can make our loved ones’ emotions seem invalidated. Acknowledge the horridness of the situation, then let them come to you with their thoughts and feelings. No one deals with death the same as another person, so allow them to follow their own grieving progress and do what you can for them along the way.

Their Everyday Needs

Your friend is going to have a hard time continuing with everyday life tasks for a little while. On top of stress and grief, they’ll be fielding questions from other family members and friends, handling their professional lives, and dealing with funeral planning. This leaves little time and energy for simple daily tasks. Don’t wait for them to ask, simply do what you know needs to be done and don’t expect a thank you. They’re likely to be distracted for the foreseeable future, and putting in the effort to make sure their daily lives stay as on track as possible.

Simple ways you can help is to pick up groceries, deliver food and plenty of Tupperware (an often forgotten but highly necessary item) for holding all the meals and leftovers they’ll be accepting, and help them keep their home picked up for all the visitors they’ll undoubtedly be receiving for the next few months. If they have kids, offer yourself up to chauffeur them to and from school or extracurricular activities while they deal with the funeral planning specifics.

When it Comes to the Funeral

On top of dealing with crushing grief, your friend might be responsible for planning the funeral. If you’re in the same city, ask your friend if they would appreciate you tagging along to meetings with the funeral home. They’ll be facing a bevy of hard decisions in a highly distressed state, and having you there to lean on could be the thing that makes it less painful. Have a company deliver flowers to the funeral to make sure there’s a tangible symbol of your support.

One thing we don’t always consider is the heavy cost of a funeral. Beyond being emotionally taxing, financial hardships can arise when attempting to plan a funeral. Help your friend handle the exorbitant cost by putting together an account on a website like Family and friends can donate money towards the funeral expenses, and can choose to add their names alongside or remain anonymous.

Don’t Let Your Support Wane

We often unintentionally let our support wane in the weeks and months after the initial shock has worn off, but your friend’s grieving process will take a long time and it’s essential that you serve as a rock of support for as long as they may need. They’ll be receiving many calls and notes in the first few weeks after news of the passing gets around, but you’d be surprised at how quickly these disappear. Their moving on process won’t be a quick one, so you’ll need to be prepared for various degrees of distress as the months and years go on.

If your friend has recently lost a loved one, you may be questioning how you can best support them. Grief is highly individualized, and their healing process will be unique to them.

Offer your support in any way that presents itself, and simply stay by their side to ensure you can be the best friend possible during one of life’s most trying times.

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  1. This is a great post. I lost my mother to cancer on December 16, 2015, and I can tell you from my own experience that just having someone’s hand to hold or someone who will just listen is priceless. No one really knows how to deal with death until they have to. Often people don’t call, visit or write because they just don’t know what to say or do. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care; they do. Just as everyone grieves in their own way and time, not everyone can or will talk about it.

    Not to sound corny or redundant, but the best thing to do is to listen to what your heart tells you to do.


  2. This is all so true. I lost my dad years ago and I still remember the many kindnesses shown to me by my friends. There were also a couple who didn’t know how to handle it so they backed right away. But that’s okay, everyone deals with things differently. I survived this hard time, just as we all do.


  3. For 3 days, we should provide food for them, assuming that they may not be able to feed themselves, and be there. Being there is 90%.

    We like to help old folks on the way down, like by saying things like the old apple does not really want to stay on the tree. The body is not afraid to die, but is itself more like the apple. I wish I had taken a picture of my Model Apple on the webpage here when it was half rotten with a Yeller Jacket in it, to puit at the end of the website!

    We had a very terrible suicide on our street a few years back, an 11 year old chil, in a graphic manner. It was hard to be there and not be obtrusive, as we did not lknow the family, very personally, and they did not seem to trust us, but too they were dealing qwith the Catholic Question of Suicide being murder, if self murder, and this added to their confusion and grief. Like work at a job, 90% is showing up.

    Thank you for your beautiful heart and your black eye to brighten the darkening world.



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