How To Help A Friend Cope With Grief
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural reaction to loss. When we speak of grief, we usually
mean the emotional impact caused by the death of a loved one. These
feelings usually include denial, guilt, anger, loneliness and finally
Time alone cannot heal grief; it takes hard work and is a gradual process.
There are three main phases to grieving:
Believing the death really happened.
Experiencing the pain of grief.
Learning to live without that person.
When someone dies, the person left behind may be in shock or denial.
Rituals after death affirm that the death really happened. A funeral can
help formally recognize and mourn the death.
A grieving person must experience pain in order to begin healing. One must
be willing to listen and give the bereaved the opportunity to express their
The third phase in grieving is to learn to live without the person who died.
The deceased played an important role in day-to-day tasks. The living
spouse needs to determine how to manage by identifying the tasks the
spouse performed and finding solutions.
What You Can Say
Following are suggestions that might be usful when offering support to the
- Say, "I'm sorry."
- Give them the opportunity to talk about the deceased.
- Allow them to share their memories.
- Validate that grieving is normal.
- Ask them how you can help.
- Remember, the best support you can offer the bereaved is to listen and be
understanding. You don't need to say much. You just need to be there for
What you can do
Following are some actions you can take to support the bereaved:
- Attend the service.
- Offer refferals to local support groups.
- Suggest resources and reading material
- Volunteer to make phone calls.
- Help with transportation arrangements.
- Support rituals and rites of death.
- Make frequent contact over the months.
Life is changed from the moment people are told about the death of a
loved one. They feel helpless and powerless. Remeber that anything you
can do or say to offer support can only aid in their grieving process.
What You Can Write
A thoughtful note is both a tribute to the deceased and a source of comfort
and courage to the living. The purpose of a note is to let them know that
you are thinking of them and offering your support. The message should
include three components:
Acknowledge the loss of their loved one:
"I just heard the sad news about
your father's death."
Express your sympathy in a sincere way:
"Let me first extend my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family."
"I want you to know I'm here to help any way I can."