When your friend is grieving, you want to do everything you can to be there for them and support them during this difficult time. But you may wonder – are you overstepping? What if you say the wrong thing? It’s common to second guess ourselves when we have the best intentions for supporting a friend after a loss.
“Grief is something we all experience at some point, but without some guidance, it can be difficult to know how to best support someone when they’ve lost a loved one,” said Erin Smith of The Terraces at Bonita Springs, a senior living community in Bonita Springs, Florida
“We’re starting a group for widows in our community called The Terraces Vita Nova Social Club. This will be a space where people in our local community who have lost their significant other have an opportunity to connect and socialize through new friendships,” Erin continued.
Vita Nova gives members the opportunity to talk about their experiences, their challenges, and enjoy the shared support of the people around them. The group will also focus on moving forward and finding joy in the next chapter of their lives through engaging gatherings and new friendships.
Vita Nova aims to provide ladies with a space where they feel encouraged to venture away from isolated homes to spend an afternoon with others who have gone through a similar experience.
As a friend, keep these simple ways in mind so that you can be there for a grieving friend.
1. Reach Out to Your Friend
Reach out with a phone call or a text message to express your condolences. This small action lets them know you’re there for them and will support them through this difficult time. Remember to keep reaching out, even after the initial wave of loss has settled.
You may be with your friend when they feel like they want to vent about their emotions or talk about their loved one. A study examining grief support showed that allowing the grieving person to discuss their loved one and not rush them through their feelings felt emotionally supported.
One key thing to remember is to not advise or interrupt your friend. Simply listening and letting them get anything they want off their chest can be a huge help to their grieving process.
3. Validate Their Feelings
When your friend is discussing how they’re feeling, it’s important to validate them. While grief is a process, it’s not always a straightforward process. Your friend may have had a good couple of weeks, only to feel their grief all over again. Being there to validate their feelings and that it’s okay for them not to be okay can provide them with comfort and assurance.
4. Show Up
Showing up is one of the best ways to support your grieving friend.
- You cook a meal, drop it off to them, and it’s ready to go in the oven.
- You stop by with groceries.
- You take their dog for a walk or mow the lawn.
Often, when you say, “Let me know if I can do anything for you,” your friend may not feel comfortable reaching out and asking. By showing up with a plan, you can alleviate some of the most difficult parts of going through the grieving process – keeping up with everything else.
Use the phrase “I’d love it if you’d allow me to…” to increase the odds of them accepting your assistance without shame.
5. Help Your Friend Find Support
While there are many ways you can support your friend, they may benefit from other types of support as well. A support group for people who have experienced loss, like your friend, can help them connect with others and hear from others who are further along in the grieving process. They may not be ready for quite some time, but gently remind them that they may find comfort in like-minded individuals.
6. Plan an Activity
When your friend is going through the grieving process, some days or times of the week may be particularly difficult. For example, the demands of the workweek and running a house may keep your friend occupied Monday through Friday, but they struggle with Saturdays.
Taking them out for coffee, to walk around a farmers market, or to their favorite restaurant can give them something to look forward to and get through the more difficult days.
7. Keep in Touch
Many people may be in touch with your friend immediately following their loss. However, when life starts to get back to normal, those people may stop reaching out. Keeping in touch with your friend will show them that you’re there for them and available to give them support during the grieving process.
Get Support at The Terraces at Bonita Springs
Navigating the loss of a loved one isn’t something you should have to face alone. Fortunately, at The Terraces at Bonita Springs, you’ll have friends and associates to hold your hand and help. Give us a call at 239-949-7848 to learn more about our groups dedicated to those who have experienced the loss of a significant partner.