It’s usually awkward to hear a friend’s loved one has passed away. How do you deal with It? These tips might help.
1. Be There. Seriously, your physical presence is a comfort. Your bereaved friend may need hugs, a sympathetic ear or a hand to hold. Often you don’t need to say anything. Help out where you can. Look around. Do the dishes if you see their sink is full.
2. Listen. There will be times when memories, stories and regrets will spill out. Again, you do not need to have all the answers, especially to various configurations of the question: Why? Often the best answer is, “I don’t know.”
3. Avoid the cliches. Phrases like, “they’re not suffering anymore,” “they had a good long life,” and “God is sparing them from what’s to come” hurt far more than they help. Even favorite scripture verses can suddenly feel like salt in the wound.
4. Respect the faith. Different religions have various rituals surrounding death. These are meant to honor the life now gone and comfort the living. The same goes for those who choose to reject religion. Few things are more out of place, uncomfortable (and lacking in comfort) than the Gospel being preached at a non-believer’s funeral.
5. Give your friend space and time to grieve. Tears tend to be avoided in our culture. Many prefer to do their crying in private. Often those who cry or appear sad are told to ‘get over it,’ or ‘move on already.’ This can lead to delayed grief where a person persistently feels sad, or bouts of seemingly unexplained anger.
It can take two years or more to move beyond the impact of the death of a loved one. Recovery comes in bits and pieces. Good friends do help.