The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~Chinese Proverb~

Helping A Friend Who Is Grieving

July 5, 2012

The death of a loved one sends people on a bittersweet inner journey they would rather not take. When the journeyer is a friend most of us would like to be of help. What does that mean?

Sometimes we keep our distance because we feel awkward or do not want to get in the way. Others of us, with the best of intentions, irritate or annoy those grieving by overdoing our sympathy.

Simply Be There

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.” A friend is a friend as a cat is a cat. Cats are simply there, going about cat business. If your friend has just suffered a loss, just go about a friend’s business. You don’t have to make your friend feel better although your presence might accomplish that.

Your friend will need a patient listener, your presence at the funeral services, and reminders they are loved. Feel free to use the deceased person’s name, most grievers appreciate that. Should you feel sad, let it show. That is a natural way to provide empathy.

Avoid saying, “I know how you feel.” Even if you’ve known heartache, that sentence easily offends or irritates those in mourning. Refrain from sharing stories of your own past griefs and nix the cliches; when someone’s loss is recent, they don’t help.

Acceptance

Some people cry a river when grieving, others are more stoic. Some keep constantly busy while others curl up in a chair for hours at a time. There are those who feel the effect of the loss immediately and those who have a delayed reaction. Your friend will appreciate your confidence that they will heal, and in their own way.

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