I lost my brother last year to an unexpected stroke. We spent about a week in the hospital before he passed. For our family, it was a blessed time to spend together and spend with him. I was so glad to be able to hold his hand, rub his arm, care for him and talk to him before he passed. It was also a life-changing experience for me. He was the first experience of someone very close to me dying.
Through that time of feeling so raw and hurt, I learned how the smallest act or thoughtfulness of a friend stood out like a beacon. One example was when we returned home after being out of town, our dear friends insisted on coming over to visit us. I really didn’t feel up to it and was afraid that I would break down when I saw them. They brought over some flowers because they had to come and tell me they loved me. It was so precious, thoughtful and it meant so much. There were many people that did seemingly small things, but those things were huge to me.
You never know how the smallest act can help a person who is grieving just make it through another day. Many times, we think the act has to be big, so we don’t do anything. I know I have thought, “I will bake them something and then stop by.” And then, I don’t make something and I don’t stop by. Forget the cookies. What matters is you and that you care.
5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend:
1. Go to the funeral, if at all possible.
If you are a friend and the distance is drivable, never miss a funeral. My dad, ever the gentleman, taught me the importance of attending weddings & funerals, and has practiced that throughout his entire life. And if you saw how in his current health difficulties, how his friends/neighbors have rallied around him, you would be amazed. It’s a non-negotiable for having deep, life-long relationships.
2. Do stop by.
Don’t wait until you have something to bring. Don’t think you are intruding. Don’t worry about staying long. Just make the effort.
3. Do bring up the deceased name(s).
If you don’t remember, because you didn’t personally know them, that’s ok. Just ask.
4. Do ask them occasionally how they are coping with their loss.
You don’t have to make a special event out of it, just bring it up occasionally when you see them. That requires that you remember – it is amazing how quickly everyone stops asking. After the additional ask, no one brings it up anymore.
5. Write it down on your calendar so you remember when the anniversary of the death/divorce is.
Send a card, send a text, just let them know that you remember. p.s. It doesn’t only have to happen on the anniversary, either. Anytime is just fine!
*Bringing food is sweet, but optional. Don’t let it stop you from doing something. A card, flowers or just a word to say that I was thinking of you and wondering how you were doing, is the most important thing. Just to know someone else cares about the deepest pain in your heart, means more than the world.
I am going to write down a list of people that have lost someone dear to them and make a point to ask them how they are doing, because I want my relationships to be richer and deeper, too.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. If you have experienced someone caring for you in your grief, share your experience. Or, what do you do for people around you that are grieving? We would love to hear from you!
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I hope this helps you as you show the love to the people in your life,
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