Your friend’s mother dies. You don’t know what to say. Nobody really does if they haven’t gone through it themselves. It’s this weird club that nobody wants to be in, but those who are, get it.
Most people want to help. It’s human nature. It’s hard to watch someone else suffering. We wish we could take it away. Since we can’t, here are a few suggestions of things that you can do to help during a difficult time.
This is not about altruism. It’s about the need to help. It should be more about the mourners than about you, but to say that you won’t feel good when you help out will be a lie. You’ll feel like you might make their day a touch brighter for a moment.
Your friend will want to speak about the person they lost. Listen. You may learn something about their loved one that inspires you. We are so used to sharing our own thoughts and experiences, but this is not one of those times. If they ask, of course share, but otherwise, just listen. There is often no greater gift to anyone than feeling that someone is listening to them.
2. Make concrete offers
We have the automatic habit of saying “let me know if you need anything.” Our intentions are good, but that won’t fly right now. Your friend’s mind may be like a sieve at the moment. They won’t be able to think of you, or anyone else, when a need actually arises. Make a concrete offer like, “I’m going to the supermarket tomorrow. I will call/text you before I go and you can let me know what you need.” Just be sure to also let another member of their house know. They may have no idea what is missing. Supporting your friend is also about helping lighten the burden of the family members that are there 24/7. One less errand for them means they are able to focus on other things.
3. Bring them meals
Just bring over a meal. Better yet, get some friends/acquaintances together and set up a meal train. It will make sure that they don’t get a bunch of meals on the same night, and people can include what they’ll be making, so the family doesn’t end up with 4 lasagnas in 1 week. It also adds more people to your friend’s support system. This is one of the easiest ones to do when you don’t know what to say or do. Feed them.
4. Let them rest
Don’t overstay your welcome. Losing someone you love isn’t only emotionally exhausting, but the physical exhaustion is intense. If they have little ones, you can offer to watch the kids so they can go rest a bit.
5. Don’t avoid
Someone died. They didn’t. Don’t pretend that everything is normal, but at the same time, don’t pretend that it isn’t. This is their new reality. It shouldn’t be the topic of every conversation, but it shouldn’t be an elephant in the room either. Ask how they are doing. Encourage them to speak about their loved one. Help them get out of the house.
Help someone grieving by honouring the memory of their loved one
We all lose people that we care about at some point in our lives. It’s inevitable. We all have to take the time to mourn their loss. It’s essential.
We remember. We honour. We continue living to truly honour the life that they lived, and honour their memory.