How to Help Friends Cope With Griefby Doug Hewitt
Your friend is grieving and you don't know what to do- if you could take away her pain, you would. A relative may have died, or they could have lost of a pet. It's hard to come up with just the right thing to say or do when your friend is upset about a loss of a loved one. You may be worried you'll make the situation worse, or you may not even know how to raise the subject with your friend. There are things you can do, however, to help your friend cope with the grief.
Tell your friend it's okay to talk about the loss and to express emotions that arise from the grief. Listen with compassion to your friend and acknowledge expressions of pain and grief. This can help your friend unleash emotions that have become bottled up, which is form of release.
Offer assistance that is practical. For example, you could offer to drive to the store and pick up needed groceries. There may be other day-to-day necessities your friend needs, and if so, offer to help obtain them.
Provide Ongoing Support
Provide support that is ongoing. Your offer of help shouldn't be limited to a one-time affair. Grief can take time to dissipate, and your friend may not appear to be continually grieving, so continue to offer an ear for listening and to offer practical assistance.
Watch for warning signs. Your friend's grief may lead to clinical depression. If warning signs appear, advise your friend to seek professional help. Warning signs include an inability to function in daily life, drug or alcohol abuse, neglecting personal hygiene, hallucinations, withdrawal, talking about suicide or dying, an inability to enjoy life and excessive guilt, bitterness or anger.
- If the grief arises from the loss of a family member, offering to help with funeral arrangements may provide relief to your friend from having to deal with unpleasant tasks.
- Avoid saying you understand how your friend feels or pointing out all of the things your friend has to be thankful for. These comments tend to minimize the loss of your friend.
- Adolescents may express grief in ways that are not readily understood by adults.
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