Sometimes when a friend is grieving, we're uncertain what they might need, or how to help. Here's some ideas.
1. Grieving people long to hear their loved one’s name. There is a fear of the person being forgotten.
2. Grieving people want to hear stories of their loved ones. Specific qualities, stories and experiences will sooth and relieve these feelings.
3. Grieving people want you to be there at the funeral and beyond.
4. Its hard to share how they’re feeling, but grieving people want to talk about their loved one who died.
5. It means so much to hear from others on the anniversary of their loved one’s death, or birthday, or anniversary – no matter how long ago. This is a way to honor the memory, and honor the life of the person.
6. Grieving people don’t expect you to have words that will fix this, but they do want you to say something to acknowledge their grief.
7. Grieving people don’t want to hear about your loss or someone else’s loss. Although we try to share how we understand, it’s a natural response, we need to keep focused on them.
8. You don’t need to be in a person’s inner circle to be a welcome companion in grief. Sometimes the people we expect to show up don’t. People always remember the people who did show up.
9. If grieving people cry when you bring up their loved one who died, it’s not because you made them sad. They’re already sad. You cared enough to bring up the one topic they really want to talk about.
10. Grieving people won’t necessarily call if they need something. They won’t ask for help – meals, laundry, cleaning out closets, taking out garbage, etc. Just take a step and offer specifically to do something.
If you notice their lawn needs to be cut, just ask if you can cut it. They maybe haven't even noticed. Take them a meal or gift certificate for a meal. Offer to walk their dog. It's sometimes the little things that are the big things.
11. Everyone's grief is unique. While you may share some commonalities in your experiences, no two of you are exactly alike. Please respect and accept both what you share in common and what is unique to you.
12. Grief is NOT a disease. No “quick-fixes” exist for what you are feeling. Healing is a process, not an event. Don’t set a specific timetable for how long it takes for yourself or others to heal.
Everyone grieves differently. Even if its the same family, or the same situation. Each relationship is different. Sisters will have a different relationship with a parent or sibling. Co-workers, neighbors and friends all have different relationships and memories. Respect and patience is needed.