Dealing with the loss of a parent is a tragic life experience we all eventually go through. As the friend of someone who is grieving, you can offer invaluable assistance. Help your friend begin the walk towards healing and recovery with these simple but effective techniques.
1. Make Contact
Even though you might not know exactly what to say, the most important way to help a person in grief is to reach out. Talk to them, and let them know you are thinking of them. Too often, a grieving person is ignored–not consciously, perhaps, but because others don’t know how they should react, or they don’t want to bring up an upsetting subject. Don’t let these reasons prevent you from connecting with your friend.
Be assured that their loss is on their mind, so talking about it isn’t reminding them about something they’ve somehow forgotten. Continue to check in with the grieving person in the weeks and months after their loss. This can be when a good friend is appreciated the most.
2. Don’t Dismiss the Grief
Of course, what you say is important. And two of the most common things said to those who have suffered a loss–“I know how you feel” and “maybe it was for the best”–can seem dismissive. Avoid them. Don’t try to “correct” what a grieving person is going through. You can’t. Simply assure them that you are there for them through your words and your actions.
3. Offer Help
You can always help in concrete ways, depending on your relationship with the grieving person and their unique situation. Bring them meals, if appropriate. Offer to babysit or do errands–whatever you think might be needed. Remember that it’s more helpful to offer to do something specific rather than simply saying “call me if you need anything.” They might be too overwhelmed to ask for help.
Grief is hard to face alone. If you have any tips for supporting a friend or family member through the death of a parent, please share in the comments.