On Grief: Part Two Helping A Grieving Friend

Yesterday I put up a post about what to expect when you are grieving and ways you can help yourself. I’m not an expert, but after seeing a therapist who said there was nothing she could do to help with grief, I feel motivated to share what worked for me, both as a person grieving, and helping a friend who is walking through grief.

Helping A Grieving Friend

Your friend is grieving and it’s hard to know what to do. You really want to help, but what happened was so awful that knowing what to do or say is hard. You certainly don’t want to make things worse for the person you love.

Do not make “mitigating” statements.

These are statements that are attempting to make whatever happened “less bad” I know why people make them – the overwhelming awfulness of what happened is so bad they they want to sort of take control of the situation and look on the bright side and make it less bad.

People do this with statements like this:

Well, it’s good that your baby died when it did, because it would have just suffered if it lived longer.

Everyone will eventually have to go through losing their mother.

At least she didn’t suffer thought a long illness.

If the baby had lived, it would have been very disabled, so it’s good that it died.

No.

Just don’t do this. You might THINK this in your brain, and that’s okay! But don’t go saying these things. In many ways, this devalues their grief: It’s kind of like saying: It wasn’t so bad! Or: Your sadness is making me uncomfortable, so I think you should stop.

The bad thing was bad. Don’t try to mitigate what happened. You cannot make what happened better. You can only help make the NOW better. Don’t underestimate the importance of this! Just because you cannot change what happened, does not mean that you can’t make now a better place for your grieving friend.

Ask What Will Help

Directly ask your friend what will help. Maybe they will know, maybe they won’t.

You may be able to help by providing something fun and distracting to do, or by sending them pictures of cute kittens. You may be able to help by baking them a cake, or just by spending time together as friends.

Your friend may be a different person now. Maybe forever.

When you go through an experience with the type of overwhelming grief like losing a child, it will change a person. I’m not saying that they will be in grief forever, or sad forever (if this happens, getting help is very important) but they may not be the same person. When you walk through the fire of grief, you become different.

I think that I am funnier now, more compassionate, and, yes, sadder. I carry grief  with me now, but I also have this deeper humor, I can make people laugh now in a way I could never do before, and I am far more compassionate to others than I used to be. I understand, deeply and personally, the nature of grief, and sadness, and though I would never pay this price willingly, I know that this pain has made me more understanding of other people. I have become a better artist, and a better writer. I would never, ever pay this price for this, but I did not get to chose, and I became better because of it. I also smile less. I laugh less. And I am a better person.

This post is what I wish I knew when I was grieving, what helped me. If something helped you when you were grieving, leave a comment below. New people are screened.

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3 thoughts on “On Grief: Part Two Helping A Grieving Friend

  1. “… I would never pay this price willingly…”

    But once life has forced you to pay that price, you might as well come out of it with more perspective. I find it very surreal sometimes that I can tell the difference in my friends between people who have had their life truly shatter to the point where they had to rebuild who they are and how they see the world… and people who have been lucky enough not to be pushed to that point. It feels like the kind of ordeal you can never truly explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

  2. Pingback: Solace in the Face of Grief: Three Expressions of Comfort | Psalmboxkey's Blog

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