Supporting Others Through Grief

July 24, 2020
July 24, 2020 Laura Gouge

How do you support someone who is grieving, or going through a difficult period of life? ⁣

We don’t get any life training on how to be a good friend, or how to show up when somebody’s going through a hard time. I learned a lot about how to show up (and equally the pain of what it feels like when people don’t show up) when my mom was dying. Before that experience, I was honestly ignorant and not someone who knew how to show up. I felt uncomfortable, and I let that feeling stop me from being there for people I really care about. ⁣

Here is what I have learned:⁣

▫️Just hold space and sit with them. It’s not your job to make their pain go away, and its also impossible for you to fix this. Their pain is there for a reason. Be a witness. If you feel uneasy, just be with that too. Remember–this isn’t about you.⁣

▫️Offer specific and tangible suggestions for support. “Could I bring you a hot meal tonight?” “Do you want to take a walk?” “I’m at the grocery store, could I drop a few things off?” Wherever you see a need, make an offer. People grieving and in the midst of transition usually don’t know what they need, so making offers for specific things allows the person to just say yes or no. ⁣

▫️Keep showing up. They may not respond to your texts or offers, and it is no reflection on your friendship. You don’t need to be a nag if someone isn’t responding, but most people welcome regular contact. When my mom was in the hospital, my friend Jason texted me and suggested frozen yogurt about once a week. I didn’t have the capacity at the time to write back, but it meant the world to me that he kept showing up.⁣

▫️Show up imperfectly. Be awkward. Honor if you have no clue how to handle what they’re going through. But just be someone who shows up. That’s all anyone needs… because remember–this isn’t about you.

 

{Art by Kika Fuenzalida}

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