How can I be a friend?
When someone experiences a death in the family it is important for you as a friend to be there to offer support. There are many ways you can show that you care.
- Be there, at the visitation and the funeral, but also in the weeks and months that follow. It is important to visit soon after the funeral. This is the time when all of the commotion comes to an end, and the bereaved may be alone. He/She will need to know that you are still there. Keep in fairly close contact, but also be sensitive to their needs. Quiet time alone is also important. The key to remember is to be available.
- Offer practical help such as preparing meals, running errands or watching the children. If you can perform some of the daily duties for the family it will allow them more time to concentrate on themselves and their own well being.
- Feel free to express your own sorrow. Share your memories of the deceased. This may help the bereaved to remember the good times that were shared and reinforce the importance of the life that was lived.
- Don't underestimate the power of touch. Don't forget to give a hug. Physical support is sometimes more beneficial than verbal support.
- Be sure to offer extra support for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and even weekends. Extend invitations to join you on these occasions. Particularly in the first year.
- Be a good listener. Be there to listen whenever it is needed. Allow your friend to tell their story again and again. This allows them to deal with the reality of the death. It is very important for the bereaved to talk about the deceased, and about how the deceased died. You will be one of the most important people in your friends healing process. Be patient with your friend and encourage him/her to experience their grief. It is a journey that they need to experience, there is no shortcut and no easy route so be there when you are needed.