'They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel' – Carl W. Beuchner
What makes a good friend? Chances are, it will differ for every person reading this post. As with any relationship, friendships are often subject to the demands of daily life and are rapidly changing. If you add in a bereavement, this can add further pressure to a friendship leaving the friend supporting the bereaved in a state of confusion.
How do I support my grieving friend? What should I say to them? I'm worried I'll upset them or make the situation worse. What should I do? These are all totally normal responses to a friend's grief and it's natural that as a friend you want to ease their pain.
We hope that this post will go some way to making you feel more confident in supporting those close to you, who are experiencing the pain of the loss of a loved one.
I know you worry about upsetting me. But the worst has already happened. Please don't let me feel that I am alone in this. I may not need your company 24/7, but knowing you are there whenever I need you is such a huge comfort.
You don't need to understand how I am feeling, and you don't need to tell me that you 'know how I feel'. It's okay to not totally understand the way I am dealing with my grief. Please just be there to listen to me. You don't have to answer my questions – I will find a way to get through this myself.
Allow me time to cry. I loved them so much, it is only fair they get my tears. If I'm laughing and joking about them, know that is okay too. This journey of grief is so confusing – give me time to ride the waves of emotion.
No matter how much time has passed, please don't tell me to 'get over them' or 'start to move on'. This is not helpful and it does not make this journey any easier for me.
I have eaten nothing other than tea and toast since they died. Seeing you at my front door with some groceries and offering to cook me a meal, means more than any empty words. Tasks that once seemed so simple now act as a reminder and bring so much pain. Offering to do some laundry, run some errands or put the hoover round should answer your need to 'do something to help'.
Never stop talking about them. The pain I feel at losing them is only made worse by the fear that they will be forgotten. Say their name. Ask me about my favourite times with them. Visit their favourite places with me. Help me to keep their memory alive.
Remember the important dates. Birthdays. Anniversaries (both the happy and the sad ones). Drop me a line to say you are thinking of me at Christmas, when the pain of my loss is highlighted by the smiley, happy faces singing carols.
Do not treat me any differently. I have lost such a special person, but I crave normality. I am already experiencing so many changes in my life since they died that I need our friendship to remain a constant. Just be you.