How to Help a Grieving Friend
By Joanne Fink
At some point in our life, most of us have to learn to cope with the loss of a loved one. Companions on the grief journey—especially for the first few years after loss—make a huge difference. Sadly, most of us don’t know what to say to a friend who is grieving, or what we can do to help.
National Grief Awareness Day, this Friday, August 30th, shines a light on grief, and the ongoing need for support after losing a loved one. If you have a friend who is grieving here are six things to keep in mind:
- Grief is not something you ‘get over’— it’s something you get through by learning to live ‘with’ the loss.
- There’s no time limit on grief!
- Grief is a normal, natural reaction to loss that can cause overwhelming and confusing emotions including disbelief, anguish, anger, sorrow, fear, guilt, relief, hopelessness and helplessness.
- Grief impacts every aspect of your life: intellectual, physical, spiritual, social and creative, as well as emotional. Widows are usually impacted financially as well.
- Most people who are grieving need support for far, far longer than their friends and family realize.
- Grief does not follow a linear timeframe. It comes in waves, and is often triggered by a song, aroma, place or memory, even years after the loss.
Here are five things you can do to help a grieving friend.
- Realize that you can’t fix this. There isn’t anything you can say or do to bring back the person who died. All you can do is accompany your friend on their grief journey.
- Don’t worry about finding ‘the right words’. Simply saying “I’m so sorry for your loss” and giving a hug can bring great comfort.
- Create a safe space for your friend to share what’s in their heart. Listen. Don’t judge. Invite your friend to talk about their loss and how it makes them feel, and quietly hand them tissues if they start to cry.
- Talk about the person who died and don’t be afraid to say their name—it’s music to the ears of their loved one.
- Remember special dates: Birthdays (both of the person who died and the person you are supporting), anniversaries and holidays are often grief triggers.Put these datesand the date of death– in your calendar so you can call, text, or send a card. It will make more of a difference than you can possibly imagine.
About Joanne Fink
Joanne Fink is an award-winning designer, calligrapher, and best-selling author with more than a million books in print. Her personal memoir, When You Lose Someone You Love, published by Companion House Press, brings comfort hope and healing to the bereaved. Joanne’s next book, My Spiritual Journey, a guided journal for spiritual seekers, will be available later this year (Quiet Fox Designs). It is currently available for pre-order. Learn more about Joanne’s books and journey at www.WhenYouLoseSomeone.comand www.zenspirations.com.
About When You Lose Someone You Love
Filled with expressive sentiments and beautifully simple illustrations from the personal grief journal of award winning artist/author Joanne Fink, this special edition of When You Lose Someone You Love offers a healing connection with all who are dealing with one of life’s most challenging times. Readers will understand that they are not alone, that there will be days when you feel overwhelmed, nights when you can’t sleep, and times when waves of sadness wash over you unexpectedly. Affirming and cathartic, this book will help bring healing without sugarcoating the challenges of losing a loved one. When You Lose Someone You Love is an incredible gift of comfort for anyone who endures the journey of losing a spouse, a family member or close friend. “Joanne Fink’s book When You Lose Someone You Love is living proof that when a widow finds inspiration and connection she is empowered
to transform her loss story into a life affirming legacy story worth sharing. This creative, gift sized book will have a positive impact on anyone
who has lost someone they love. We need more books like this in the world.”
―Carolyn Moor, founder of Modern Widows Club