When a Friend Grieves

When a friend loses a loved one, it isn’t always easy to figure out how to help them. You want to be there for them, but you don’t want to push yourself on them. You might know what kind of support and help you would want in their situation, but that doesn’t mean it’s what they want.

Sometimes the grieving person doesn’t even know what they need. They’re shredded inside, maybe in tears all the time, maybe wondering why they aren’t crying. There’s no one way that people grieve. One person might break down and cry for hours, while another couldn’t cry if their life depended on it. One might desperately need hugs, hand-holding, and other physical gestures of comfort, while another can’t stand to even be in the same room with other human beings, let alone be touched by them.

If you’re seeing a friend’s grief, you might feel completely helpless. You can’t make things better for them, but you want to. You wish they didn’t have to go through it. You might feel awkward and worried about saying the wrong thing, or wondering if you’re even allowed to mention the loved one’s name.

Even though your friend might not have an answer for you, asking, “Can I do anything?” might help. Asking about something specific might be even better: “You’ve got a lot going on, want me to do some of your housework?” or “I can watch your kids for a little while if you need a break,” or something along those lines.

And sometimes the best thing you can say is just “I’m here.” Just those two words might make a difference.