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Three Tips to Consider as You Support Your Grieving Friend

Understanding what to say to someone experiencing grief or the death of a loved one when you haven’t experienced grief yourself can be a challenge. You have good intentions and want to support them but are at a loss for words. Sometimes after you initially tell them the generic “sorry for your loss, let me know if you need anything,” you lose touch. Even good intentions can become meaningless to one who is experiencing immense grief and pain. That’s why Bakken-Young is here for grief support. Here are three tips to consider as you support your grieving friend.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Don’t stop checking up on them even a while after they lose their loved one.

This is something many may be guilty of, even if that wasn’t intentional. You might have initially kept in contact with them, telling them you are there for them and are sorry for their loss, but after a while stop checking in. You stop asking them how they are doing. This does no one any good. It hurts both your friendship and the individual. By losing contact, the grieving can feel like a friendship had no substance, and it makes you feel self-pity for being uncertain of what to say. But, words don’t always matter. If you want to support them, check in daily and ask how they are, and how their grief is, and bring up normal topics you and the friend would typically cover. You don’t have to strictly keep it on a grief topic. Just keep talking to them. This brings us to our second point, not always using words.

Words aren’t always necessary.

Feeling the need to say something is a common struggle amongst those who are trying to comfort the grieving. The typical phrases of “sorry for your loss,” and “let me know if you need anything,” can lose their meaning the more you repeat it to the grieving. If you truly are at a loss for words, just be there for them if you are able. Show up. Be present in their lives like you always were. Grief is a normal and human thing to experience. It is something everyone will experience at some point in their lives. A simple hug can go a long way than just a few words. Invite them to go on walks in nature or play a game. If you aren’t sure what to do besides talking to them, all you have to do is ask.

Ask them.

Asking a question never hurts. It shows you care and are genuinely curious about how to help. The griever may grow tired of hearing the phrase “Let me know if you need anything” (many of us do) and being distracted by your change in subject or lack of understanding. Have you ever been asked how a friend could help you in your grief? If you have, it might’ve surprised you. This question can catch the grieving off guard because it is an unfortunate rare question to ask, and it helps the grieving to ask themselves: what do I need help with? They might not want anything, and that’s okay. But letting others help you is not a bad thing either. If you simply ask them what can you do, especially how can you help them, it will make more of a difference than “Let me know if you need anything.” They may not know what to say, but at least it shows you are willing to go the extra mile for them. After all, friends deserve that kind of love and support.

If you are grieving or know of someone who is grieving, Bakken-Young is here for support. We offer multiple resources to help the grieving, whether it is grief groupswebinarsCoffee & Conversation, or other eventsContact us today and we will help you find the right support. We are with you.

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