When you have a friend or family member experiencing a severe loss, it can be difficult to find just the right words to help. Often, for fear of saying the wrong thing, you may actually do or say nothing.
While doing nothing is an option, there are plenty of ways you can support a loved one while they are suffering a loss. Here are five ways you can help a friend who is grieving:
And keep listening. Letting your loved one speak and express their feelings verbally without distractions is one of the best ways to support him or her.
Don’t give unsolicited advice.
Unless specifically asked, it’s best to not give any advice. Stay present and state the truth rather than anticipating the future.
Don’t counter with your own stories.
Above all, show your love. Be willing to not have all of the answers. But be willing to be there, be present, to listen, and to love.
It can be with the best intentions to share your own experiences of grief, but do not try to make it about you. Let your friend talk about their loss so you can really listen and be there for them.
Don’t try to solve the situation.
Again, usually with good intentions, it’s easy to try to jump in and attempt to solve any problems. More than likely, a “fix” is not what your friend needs. He or she will need to be able to experience and work through the loss in their own way.
You can never listen too much. This is truly one of the best gifts that can be given to someone who is going through a crisis.
Stay safe: If your loved one threatens to harm him/herself or you, or to damage property, you must do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and others. You may need to leave and call for help. If possible, remove objects that could be used to cause harm. If you feel police assistance is needed call 911 and always request a Crisis Intervention Trained Officer. (Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
Know when it’s time to encourage them to seek help: If you feel your friend is having a mental health crisis, you many need to encourage them to make an appointment with a professional. Tell them their concerns are treatable and remind them that you are there to support them as needed. If they refuse, you may need to seek advice from a mental health professional.