When someone is grieving or going through a difficult time, it can be hard to know what the right words are to comfort them. Some people want to talk about their feelings while others prefer to process their emotions silently. Either way, having a few things ready to say will help you feel prepared to help your friend through their grief. Here are a few tips:
- Be supportive without trying to fix the way they feel. Feeling and experiencing grief is an important part of the process. Sometimes as onlookers we can want to fix the problem to help someone move on. But often grieving simply takes time. Let them know you are there for them and ready to listen. Saying things like, “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now, but I am here to help in any way I can.” or “I wish I had the right words to say, but know that I care about you and am here for you.” Sometimes just giving the person a hug or just sitting with them and listening is best.
- Talk about the person that passed. The one thing we hear the most from people who are grieving is that they want to talk about their loved one they’ve lost. Tell them your favorite memory about their loved one, or your favorite character traits about them. Tell a story that makes you laugh or one that touches your heart. Hearing that other people loved and appreciated the person can be comforting to know they won’t be forgotten and are loved by many.
- Let them know how you can help. Are you an early bird and can offer to help walk their dog? Or a night owl who could come over to comfort them through the evening with dinner and a movie? Or maybe you’re happy to run errands for them. Can you arrange to have their house cleaned or lawn mowed so they won’t have to worry about it? Whatever you can do, offer it. If they know you don’t mind helping, they’ll be more inclined to take you up on your offer.
- Just let them know you care. If words aren’t your thing you can always just tell them you are thinking of them and you are sorry for their loss. Send them a hand written note with more heartfelt sentiments if discussing it over the phone or in person is too uncomfortable for you. Let them know you are a phone call away and you’re happy to just listen if needed.
- What not to say. Oftentimes people mean well when they say things like, “They’re in a better place now” or “At least he lived a long life”. But to the person who is grieving it may feel like the best place was right there by their side or their life wasn’t quite long enough.
At the end of the day, the key is letting the person know you truly care and want to help them through their difficult time. There is really no perfect thing to say and everyone feels differently about how much help they want. It may take some time for you to figure out what the right amount of support is. No matter what level of assistance you’re able to provide, they’ll find some comfort in knowing they have your love and support.