This blog post on Let’s Talk About Loss discusses what to say to your friend who has just been bereaved. The author of the blog is Beth Rowland whose mother died when she was 20. However, the practical advice in this post is also relevant for people hoping to support and communicate with a bereaved parent.
Beth says, “I’ve experienced my fair share of people ‘putting their foot in it’ and saying the wrong thing, so I’m going to attempt to pass on a few pearls of wisdom about what to say – and what not to say – when the unthinkable happens.”
The blog posts is broken up into section:
Don’t ignore me, please
“Something as small as being noticed, being valued, and being spoken to can make the world of difference to someone who is really struggling (note – this is actually just great advice for anyone suffering, not just those whose situation is bereavement), and we all have a part to play in helping our friends.”Offer help – but make it specific
“When people ask me, ‘how can I help’, I never know what to say! I’m just as new to this grief game as you, so I don’t always know how to respond, and one of the best things you can do is offer clear, specific assistance. The person can always say no if they don’t need it, but the chances are they do.”
Some ideas for what to offer (food, time, car, words)
“Whether you post a card, send a Facebook message or speak to them in person, use words to convey to the person that you are thinking about them. Don’t write an essay, just a simple ‘I’m thinking of you at this time’ is enough. Yes, we don’t often have the right words, but that doesn’t mean we should have no words. ”
You’re an amazing friend and I believe in you!
“Supporting our friends when death happens is one of the most challenging aspects of a friendship, but also the most important. My favourite humans on the planet are those that know exactly how to treat me and look after me when I’m at my worst, and as a result, they also get to see me at my best!”