This was so well-written, I had to share it. Here are some of the excerpts from veteran therapist Megan Divine, who has taken her first-hand experience of a loss she had. Based on that, she offers some awesome insight for us when we want to help the pain of that friend in grief, but don't know what to do.
#1 Grief belongs to the griever. Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the person experiencing it. You may believe you would do things differently if it had happened to you. (But you're not in that situation, so you do not know for sure.) Your role should be one of support in what THEY are going through.
#2 Stay present and state the truth. Even when the present is full of pain. You cannot know that your friend’s loved one “finished their work here,” or that they are in a “better place.” These platitudes aren’t helpful. Stick with the truth: this hurts. I’m here.
#3 Do not try to fix the unfixable. The pain itself cannot be made better. It is an unfathomable relief to have a friend who does not try to take the pain away.
#4 Don't get hurt-or offended yourself. When they vent, you may feel ignored and unappreciated. Don’t take it personally, and please don’t take it out on them. Find your own trusted people to lean on at this time — it’s important that you be supported while you support your friend.
#5 Anticipate, don’t ask. Avoid saying “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will not call. Making a phone call to ask is light years beyond their energy levels, capacity or interest. Instead, make concrete offers to help them with the day-to-day stuff.
#6 Do the recurring things. Things like refilling prescriptions, and bringing in the mail are all good choices. Please try not to do anything that is irreversible — like doing laundry or cleaning up the house — unless you check with your friend first. That empty soda bottle beside the couch may look like trash, but may have been left there by their husband just the other day. The dirty laundry may be the last thing that smells like her. Ask first.
#7. Tackle the stressful projects together. There may be things like casket shopping, mortuary planning, the packing and sorting of rooms or houses. Offer your assistance and follow through with your offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks.
#8 Run interference. Gatekeepers are really helpful to keep your friend from being overwhelmed. As the designated point person, you can relay the information to the outside world, or organizes well-wishers.
#9 Educate and advocate. If someone asks you about your friend a little further down the road, you might say things like, “Grief never really stops. It is something you carry with you in different ways.”
#10 Love. Show up. Say something. Do something. Be willing to not have any quick answers. Listen. Be there. Be present. Be a true friend. Love is the thing that lasts.
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