If a close friend has recently lost someone in their life and is grieving their departure, you’re probably wondering what you can do. You want to be there to provide support, but you certainly don’t want to overstep or get in the way. What is the proper protocol?
How to Support Your Friend Through Loss and Grief
Grief is one of the most powerful human emotions that exists. And at some point in our lives, we’ll all experience seasons of grief. But there’s something unique about grief in that it’s different for each person. Two people can experience grief stemming from a similar event and the way they process it will be totally different.
As someone on the outside who is offering support and encouragement to a friend experiencing grief, it can be difficult to know what to say. We don’t always know how they’re processing things, what it feels like, or what they want.
But at the end of the day, there’s one thing every person experiencing grief desires: love. People want to know that they’re loved and supported.
Here are some specific ways you can do that:
1. Send Flowers
Nothing says “I’m thinking about you” quite like a fresh bouquet of flowers. It’s the perfect token of your care at a time when your friend might not be in the right headspace for lots of visitors coming through their home.
Having flowers delivered to someone’s home from a local florist shows them you care. For the freshest results, find a local flower shop with same-day delivery.
2. Bring Food
When people are grieving, the last thing they want to deal with is cooking and preparing a meal. (In fact, many people won’t. Instead, they rely on fast food and takeout, which leads to an unhealthy cycle and improper nourishment.) Try organizing a “meal train” so that people can bring freshly prepared meals.
3. Step in and Help
In the pursuit of being helpful, people will often contact a grieving friend and say something like: “If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.” And while statements like this are intended for good, they actually put a burden on the individual grieving. They don’t always know what kind of support they need (and probably won’t go through the effort of asking).
A better option is just to step in. If you’re driving by their house and notice that the grass is getting high, grab your lawnmower and start mowing. Or if you know that their child has football practice after school, text your friend and let them know that you’ll be picking them up from practice every day and giving them a ride home. Don’t ask – just step in. This is usually the most helpful thing you can do.
4. Rally Resources
You can only do so much as one person, but there’s power in numbers. One way to support a friend is by organizing a group of people to rally resources. Food is obviously a big one, but there are other ways to help, too. Whether it’s yard work, childcare, carpooling kids, or running errands, there are plenty of ways to support your friend in the weeks after their loss.
5. Continue to Check In
A person experiences the most support in the immediate aftermath of their loss. But after a week or so, most of that support disappears. Other people move on and forget about it. (Or they assume that someone else is providing the support, encouragement, and care that they need.) If you want to help your friend, continue to check in.
Make it a point to check in every few days. You don’t have to make any big deal out of it – just let them know that you’re thinking about them. You might be the only person who is still consistently checking in.
Be Present in a Time of Need
You don’t need to be your friend’s savior. You can’t rescue them from their grief, no matter what you say or do. The only thing you can do is provide support and show them that you love them. If you do this through your actions, words, and gifts, you’ll be exactly the kind of friend they need.