Helping a Grieving Friend Through a Devastating Loss
I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Sacramento. When a friend is experiencing a devastating loss, most people genuinely want to be there for him or her. However, during times like these, they may not know what to say. Some people may be so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they choose to say nothing at all. Although that is a choice, it’s usually not a good one. While there isn’t a perfect way to respond, here are some tips on what you can do to be supportive.
Don’t Take on Your Friend’s Grief
Grief is a personal experience that belongs solely to your friend. Don’t make suggestions or advice to help the griever feel or do things differently. You have a supporting role, not the primary role in your friend’s grief so follow his or her lead.
Stay in the Present
Don’t talk about the future or the past when your friend’s present is full of pain and uncertainty. You can’t predict the future for your friend by saying things will get better. Don’t talk about the past either highlighting how good your friend’s life was. The past is not a good exchange for the severe pain he or she is experiencing now.
State the Truth
You may be tempted to make broad statements like “he’s in a better place” or “God needed another angel.” However, these generalized clichés will not help. Instead, stick to the truth about how much this hurts.
Don’t Try to Solve the Unsolvable
Your friend’s loss can’t be solved, fixed or repaired. The pain can’t be made better. Don’t say anything that tries to fix what can’t be fixed. There’s nothing you can do that can take away the pain.
Watch YouTube Video: What Not to Say to Someone Who is Grieving. Kay Warren, an academic anthropologist, shares her advice on what not to say to people going through grief from her own personal experience.
Don’t Take It Personally
It won’t be comfortable being around someone who is in pain. Your friend will go through a series of emotions – shock, denial, anger, fear, stress. Your friend may ignore you or say things that will likely hurt your feelings. However, don’t take it personally. Find other people to lean on during this challenging time.
Don’t Ask, Just Do It
Don’t say “let me know if there’s anything I can do,” instead just do it. Don’t put the burden on your friend to call you. Make solid plans like “I’ll come by tonight to cook dinner for you” or “I’ll stop by in the morning to take your dog for a walk.”
Do Things Together
Your friend will be faced with difficult tasks like shopping for a casket, visiting the mortuary or packing up a room. Offer your help and follow your friend’s lead. Being there alongside your friend and tackling the projects together makes a powerful statement, one where words are often not needed.
Be the Gatekeeper
There may be other friends, family members or acquaintances asking for information about your friend. Having an influx of people who want to show their support can be overwhelming for the griever. Your friend may feel like he or she is living in a fishbowl. You can help shield your friend by being the middle person who communicates the information to the well-wishers.
Show Your Love
Above everything else, show your love. Be a true friend. Be ready to be there without any expectations. Be prepared to cry, listen and love. Love is the only thing that lasts.
Wrongful Death Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Sacramento. Watching a friend or family member go through the grieving process is never easy. If a family member or a close friend has lost a loved one in an accident, call me at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. You can also call toll free (800) 404-5400 or go online.
I am pleased to be part of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You can view some of my verdicts and settlements.
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