10 Do’s and Don’ts for Comforting A Friend Through Loss
When a close friend or family member loses someone they love, it can be tricky to know the best way forward. You want to show love without stepping on any toes. Here’s a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for comforting your friend or family member:
Six Do’s for Comforting a Friend in Grief
DO Make Note of Important Dates. Jot down the date of the person’s passing and set a reminder on your phone or calendar (for one month, six months and one year) to check-in with a phone call or text to say, “I’m thinking of you today.”
DO Send Something. Small gestures hold big meaning. Order dinner to be delivered, send cookies, mail a card or drop off a potted plant that’s easy to care for and appreciate in remembrance. Think outside of the box – give the gift of wind chimes so whenever the wind is blowing, the sound will remind them of their loved one.
DO Offer a Specific Way to Help. Instead of the common phrase, “What can I do?” try something more pointed like, “I’d love to watch the kids for a few hours. What day this week is best for you?” or “I know you have a lot to sort through at your mom’s house. How about I come tidy up your home and get you caught up on laundry?”
DO Give Loads of Grace. Forgive short responses, uncomfortable moments or a reluctance to talk in the weeks that follow loss. Your friend or family member likely has so much on their plate–logistically and emotionally. Understanding and grace go a long way.
DO Show Up in Support. Make your every effort to attend the funeral, memorial or celebration of life service and, while there, be sure to comment on the beauty of the service and your sorrow for the passing of their loved one.
DO Share Photos and/or Stories of Remembrance. When you recall a moment with the deceased that warms your heart or makes you laugh, reach out over phone, email or social media to share your memory right away. Stories of loved ones lost are a balm to a broken heart.
Four Don’ts for Comforting a Friend in Grief
DON’T Let Awkwardness Keep You From Reaching Out. You may feel a bit unsure of how to start a conversation after someone passes, but that’s okay. You can keep things super simple: “I’m sorry for your loss. I loved your mom because of her big bear hugs and warm smile.”
DON’T Try to Solve Any Emotional Problems. Be wary of going too far with your condolences. The burden of someone else’s grief is not yours to bear. So steer clear of phrases that declare the death to be in “God’s will” or “perfect timing” or that “it will all make sense one day.”
DON’T Minimize Pain. Death hurts. It doesn’t matter if family members saw it coming or if the person was exceptionally old. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been through grief and found your way to the other side. Pain must be felt fully in order to be truly dealt with.
DON’T Have Any Expectations of Reciprocation. You may send a text or make a call and hear nothing in response. That’s normal. Anticipate this by including this helpful phrase in your communication, “No need to respond. I know you have a lot going on. I just want you to know I’m thinking of you.”