I’ve noticed that people who have been through difficult experiences seemingly know the right way to comfort a grieving friend. Death can be an especially difficult subject for many. It is difficult to know what to say or what not to say, or even if anything should be said at all.
I’ve been on both sides of those conversations and there is no perfect formula for knowing what to say all the time. I’ve wanted to comfort the person who has experienced a loss. But I didn’t want to say something that may stir up sadness or make them uncomfortable. I also did not want to tell them that I knew what they are going through, because they could be in a completely different state of grief than what I walked through.
In short, overthinking this conversation may result in a missed opportunity. Just be present with your friend in the moment.
How To Comfort a Grieving Friend
In my experience of losing a parent, I found the most comfort when a friend would make their condolences known through a phone message or sending a card. The simple fact that I knew that someone was out there, thinking about me and letting me know that they were praying for my comfort was a really big deal to me.
Another way friends or acquaintances showed their care, was by showing up: with food, flowers, or just leaving a basket of goodies and a small outdoor plant on our front porch.
Don’t Ignore the Grief
When I would go to church or run into someone who knew what I was going through, ignoring the topic completely left me feeling overlooked. It made me question the relationship I had with that person. They may have felt uncomfortable saying anything, but not saying anything was worse than saying the wrong thing.
There may be a lot of awkward comments said, but if I can get past the words and see the person’s heart instead, I will find someone who cares enough to say something, even when it’s hard.
We are all walking through some stage of loss in this life. It’s in the small moments: the simple written note, a caring smile, or even a phone call to check in. Just knowing that someone out there is caring for us makes a big difference.