Grief – How to Help Your Friend Through Grief
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
Some practical advice on journeying with your friend
- Just be present. Be there to listen. It may be a hug or a squeeze of the hand. There may be silence but you being there is all that matters. They are not alone.
- Be the friend that creates the safe space where the griever can go, where the person grieving does not have to be aware of others expectations. They do not need to worry how they look or how they feel.
- Educate yourself on the signs of grief and the emotions to expect. Be aware and conscious of how your friend is feeling. Allow them space to travel through these emotions. The five common stages of grief being denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance. (not in any order). Our journey is not linear but more circular in its display.
- Remember that Grief is unavoidable and is the deep expression of loss of someone you love, because and love and intertwined
- Offer practical help. Rather than say “Call me if you need anything” offer to do something specific. A simple gesture like doing the dishes, cleaning the floors, sorting washing is all that is sometimes needed.
- In early grief the phone can ring off the hook and there can be a flow of people coming and going. This is often overwhelming and exhausting. Create a quiet place in the home for the bereaved away from the busyness. People genuinely want to offer the condolences and support. Rather than locking up the house and turning off the phones, have a designated person answer the phones to take down condolence messages and create a public space in the home where people can come with their sympathy gifts. Your grieving friend does not always need to be present there.
- Do not be afraid to say the deceased’s name. By mentioning their name, you are continuing to remember to them. Share the memories and the photos.
- Our physical body reacts to grief. Physical signs to be aware of include loss of appetite, inability to sleep, tears, exhaustion, lack of energy, feeling sick in the tummy, headaches to name just a few.
- Don’t just be present in the first few days or weeks of loss. As a good friend, be present in the longer term. Often the harsh reality of grief does not always set in till the phone calsl stop and others move on back to their everyday lives. Remember, for the person grieving life will not go back to how it used to be. Life will never be the same.
- Suggest counselling. You cannot move over, around, or under grief. One must travel through. A professional counsellor is skilled at assisting your friend.