Do you have a friend who’s just suffered an immeasurable loss? If so, it’s hard to know how to show compassion during their time of need. Finding the right words and gifts takes thought, but with some planning, it is possible to show sympathy and encouragement.
When you want to help a grieving friend, look to these seven simple ways you can show how much you care.
1. A Sympathy Card Always Is a Good Choice
One of the most heartfelt gestures you can make is to write a personal card to your grieving friend. Find some pretty stationery and write a thoughtful message to help your friend cope with their difficult time. If you don’t want to hand-deliver it, mail it for a thoughtful surprise that could make their day.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a wordsmith, that doesn’t matter. The emotion behind the words and your effort to write them is what counts. If you don’t have money to afford a gift or a lot of time to check in constantly, a card can be a meaningful alternative — and an opportunity to offer help down the road.
2. Offer to Help with Daily Tasks
When a friend is sad, they might lack the motivation to complete tasks that normally are easy. Going grocery shopping, paying utility bills, and taking care of household chores can seem burdensome when you’re dealing with emotional weight. A practical form of help is to step in and help do some of these tasks.
Offer to go grocery shopping with your friend or swing by the bakery to pick up some fresh bread once a week. You don’t want to overstep a boundary and seem pushy, but you do want to help your friend meet basic needs. If your friend has lost a partner, not only have they lost a loving companion, but they’ve also lost a person who works with them to run the household.
3. Let Your Grieving Friend Take the Lead
When it comes to showing support, you’ll want to take cues from your friend. Some grieving people might like having a friend around more frequently to help fill a void. But others might prefer more alone time to deal with the loss.
Make a habit of checking in on your friend and asking before showing up on their doorstep. You don’t want to be overbearing, but it is important to make sure that your friend’s mental and physical conditions are in good shape. And don’t take it personally if your friend declines a social outing — they’ll need some space to grieve on their own.
4. Help Your Friend Find a Support Group
Knowing how to support a friend means knowing how to help them find the support they need. Support groups are an excellent way for your friend to talk through feelings with people in similar circumstances. They’ll be able to have a safe zone where they can be open with their emotions and experience empathy.
Contact a local church or non-profit to find out what groups might be available in your area for your friend. And don’t push them to join before they are ready. Offer a pamphlet to give your friend more information so they can seek support when they are comfortable doing so.
5. Send a Thoughtful Gift
A gift box with a simple note is a thoughtful way to tell your friend you’re thinking of them. Opt for a box of different types of tea, fresh bread, or a fruit basket as a comforting gesture of support. Or choose a recurring gift so your friend has a small gift box to look forward to each month.
A local florist delivery is another easy way to show that you care. Flowers suggest life and growth, and the vibrant colors and smells will be a welcome addition to your friend’s home. When your friend is feeling down, they’ll enjoy the distraction of a beautiful arrangement on their kitchen table.
6. Understand That Anniversaries Are Hard
Know that birthdays, anniversaries, and special holidays can be difficult times after someone has passed away. Your friend may feel lonely spending these holidays without their loved one at home.
Send a card to your friend and don’t be afraid to say the name of their loved one. Talk about a good memory that you have, and offer some gentle words of comfort. Check to see if your friend wants to join you for a holiday meal or offer to gather a few people together on their birthday.
7. Continue to Be Present
One of the biggest challenges with loss is that once the shock goes away, the support can, too. While people might be very supportive in the immediate aftermath of someone’s passing, that can start to peter out. You can be a better friend by making a point of checking in on your friend periodically.
You don’t have to be quite as persistent as you may have been in the first few weeks. But try to schedule reminders to call your friend or arrange lunch dates to catch up. They’ll appreciate that you haven’t forgotten about them, and you can check to see how they’re doing.
Show How Much You Care
Supporting a grieving friend is one of the most generous things you can do. While it’s difficult to put yourself in their shoes, you can show your compassion through your words and actions. Determine what is best for your particular friend, and move forward with a plan.
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