When a person loses a loved one, grief is one of the deepest emotions that arise; and he or she can feel lonely and sometimes helpless. In such difficult times, that person needs a good support system, as it’s difficult to go through sadness all alone.
When death occurs in the family of someone close to us, we instinctively want to be of help. Yet, sometimes we simply don’t know what to do, and the grieving person may find it difficult to ask for anything or may simply be unclear as to the help they actually need.
What can you do for a bereaved friend?
While every situation and circumstance is different, there are some universal ways to be of service to those who need us during their difficult times. We gathered some suggestions of how you can be of practical and emotional help to your friend.
The support of family and friends is always beneficial, but sometimes it is not enough, and your grieving friend may need to reach out to a Grief Counselor or a grief recovery group, who will have the experience to provide the appropriate support with understanding and methods to help them cope and renew their strength. So help your friend find the right grieving support group.
Practical help is also very important, and make sure you volunteer as people often find it hard to ask for help, and then offer to help only with the tasks you know you can do or that you feel are appropriate.
Maybe you can watch over the house, water plants or arrange for the care of their pets, if your friend and his or her family need to travel to attend the funeral or memorial service.
If the funeral is in the same town and your friend is an intricate part of the arrangements, offer to contact other friends and relatives to notify them of the death and the funeral arrangements.
Should people be coming to your friend’s home, help with cleaning the house and do home chores or run errands as needed; organize housing for out of town guests; pick up people at the airport; coordinate or help prepare food for family and friends prior to or after the funeral; provide transportation for family or friends going to the funeral; help with transporting school age children or offer to babysit young children.
Offer to make a print of a special picture for a photo display at the memorial service, or be there to receive friends and family during the visitation.
As the days go by, there are many more things you can do to support your friend, such as visit as much as you see is needed; check the calendar of the deceased and your friend to make sure any appointments are canceled or changed; organize a support system for food; help with sorting through and, if appropriate and when your friend is ready, disposing of the deceased’s belongings; offer to go with your friend to settle legal or financial matters regarding the deceased, as it’s important that they don’t feel they are alone during these difficult times; decorate the house a bit if it’s the holidays; offer to help with any other errands or ways that may enhance your friend’s everyday life.
Mark the decedent’s birthday, wedding and death anniversary dates on your calendar and send flowers or a card to your friend and family members in years to follow.
It’s good to remember, some people find it difficult to ask or even accept help – so if your friend turns you down, try again soon. Be compassionate, kind, and persistent.
While practical help is also going to provide some emotional support, knowing what to say, when to say, and how much to say to your friend who is hurting is of immense importance, and often not easy.
Since we don’t have a magic wand to change the reality that someone died, how can we help a friend who is experiencing grief?
You can start by offering a safe space for your friend to share feelings about the loss and the deceased. While some people do not like to talk about death, having them know that you are there and that you care can give them the opportunity to open up.
So don’t be afraid to ask, and be prepared to listen, staying sensitive to what they need at that time, not what you think they need.
The most difficult time for some people is often when everyone goes home after the funeral and they are left alone, so following the funeral, visit and call your friend often.
Offer your favorite memories of the deceased to give to your friend; this will be good for you and a precious gift for your grieving friend. Maybe also give a poem or words of wisdom to uplift; or maybe what will help your friend is a scripture verse, or a book on grief. And, a bunch of lovely flowers can speak volumes, too.
These are just some ideas of how you can help, and we are certain you will think of at least a few more. While we cannot take away someone’s hurt, we can share the feelings and show them that someone else cares, and maybe give hope that life can be meaningful again and that they will feel better in time.
Remember, one of the most important things is being willing to take the time to be there for your bereaved friend and to listen.
At DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory we believe that our job of serving families who are experiencing grief starts before the funeral or memorial service, and is not completed once it’s over. We are here to help families and individuals through the difficult times and provide compassionate care and support.
For resources on grieving support groups and more information about how DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory can assist you with any funeral needs, we invite you to contact us today.