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What can friends do to help when a dear friend is dealing with grief?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My dear, dear friend's husband just passed away....he had been sick with cancer for a long time. My friend is young, and has a beautiful 8 year old daughter. I am so very sad for them....My heart just breaks....They have all been through so much, I just wish I could blink my eyes and make everything alright for them. I want to reach out and help, and I am honestly not sure what I can, and should do. I am also not sure what I shouldn't do. I was hoping that others could talk a little about the thoughtful, and meaningful ways that their friends and families, were able to help during the days, weeks, and months after the passing of their loved one.

Thanks so very much.
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
I thought I would post some ideas that I have just gotten from a few friends:

*Organize a meal giving
*Mark the date of passing on your calandar, and either call, send a card
*Help organize the thank you cards
*buy and give her stamps that she will need
*bring over sandwich fixings

What not to do:
*don't disappear.....continue to call regularly
*allow her the freedom to cry, yell, be sad
*don't say things like, "he has gone to a better place"

My dear friend has no family here in the US, so while they will be here now, I am worried about what I can do for her once they are gone. I am also worried about her 8 year old daugher.....I am not sure what I can do for her.

I thought that maybe if I posted these ideas, it may help someone else who, like me, wants to help, but is not sure how. Please post, if there is anything else others want to add. Or maybe there is link to another site that has a good ideas.
post #3 of 16

What a wonderful friend you are and you had some thoughtful and heartwarming suggestions.

When my dh died, a dear friend helped me make some arrangements, took me and my ds to our counseling appts., took me to the county to get the death certificate (yuck! ) Helped me pick out flowers for the funeral and was my driver to the funeral. I couldn't drive for a few weeks and she was my taxi driver~that helped me so much. She and other friends helped me move too~they boxed EVERYTHING for me! I didn't have to do a thing. She never told me that "God loved him so much that he wanted him w/him". She listened to me cry and cry and cry and never asked if "I was over it yet". She has been there for me~the day he died and now 2 years later.

Another friend~gave us shelter (a place to live) and food. And she went to the library and got books about death and grieving for my ds.

I hope this helps~my thoughts go out to you and your friend.


post #4 of 16
I agree, your friend is so lucky to have you.

My only suggestion would be to listen. Don't stop listening, no matter how painfull it is. If she breaks down in tears - your not upsetting her, your helping her heal.

You may find bereavement magazine to be helpfull. They have some wonderful resources.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you so very much for your ideas.

Much love and {{{{Hugs}}}} for both of you.
post #6 of 16
Having just made it thru my first year without my dh, I can clearly tell you who my friends are... or at least who the brave ones are

I really appreciate the friends who still treated me like their friend, would not only listen to me rave about Mitch, but were more than happy to distract me with discussions of REAL LIFE stuff, not just death and cancer. And they picked up the living room or did the dishes while this was going on... Sometimes they would (and still do!) arrange between them to take my children so I could be home alone or out with friends, whatever I need. One really brave friend sent me an anniversary card (we share the date) -- I was so thankful, not only that someone remembered, but that someone acknowledged it EXISTED, and was friend enough to know that I would need just that reminder on just that day; that our relationship was real and just because he's gone doesn't mean my love for him and for us just vanishes.
Let her talk, and talk and talk.
Ask questions about her memories, she doesn't need them just wandering around in her head with no place to go.
Buy her a journal, buy her lots of journals til you find one that works for her.

Oh, and when you call her six months from now, and her life has been going along fine and suddenly she is just blue... never, never ask "what do you have to be sad about?" you will always, always feel terrible when she says "Dead Husband" (an especially insensitive question near any holidays or the anniversary of his death!)
post #7 of 16


Well, what I hate is when someone assumes I don't want to talk about it. I probably do, but I won't volunteer. If I really don't want to talk, I'll say so.

Also, don't tell me it was God's will, or that my loved one is in a better place, or that it all happened for a reason, or it was all for the best, or that everything's going to be OK.

Ask questions about the loved one...go to memorials...know that this is not something you "get over", and don't suggest medication!

(That has been what would be most helpful to me, and what I wish people would and wouldn't do. Of course, it may not be the best thing for everyone.)
post #8 of 16
Greeseball, I think you really hit on some important things. I agree with every thing you said. People are much more willing to say "I don't want to talk today" than "Can we talk about him/her".

Greif is journey and we need to travel down many paths, some are darker than others, but they're all a part of the journey.

I wish you peace as you journey greeseball.
post #9 of 16
Thanks guys, for talking about something we're all needing to talk about!
I have had the wonderful fortune to meet 25 new friends over the past couple of months (I'm in Tony and Tina's Wedding...) and as we get to know each other quickly and intensely, I find a place for Mitch in this life. Many have commented they feel they know him, just from my stories. I am careful that I don't speak of him as if I'm living in the past and wanting that back ... but losing him and dealing with our kids (I almost typed my kids!) for these 15 months, I want others to learn from our experience and see our blessings as we do... yeah, it sucks, a lot! but sometimes, sometimes, it is the most perfect life I can imagine. He lived and it mattered, it's okay to talk to me about that.
post #10 of 16
Diana, I think your husband would be proud of the woman you are today. You have such a strength and openess.

Your children will benefit from the healthy way your moving through your greif. I can't even imagine loosing my husband and raising our children alone. It's got to be so difficult - please know your in my thoughts.
post #11 of 16
I am so glad to find this thread. I have just lost a friend and am searching for a way to be there for her family (who I am also friends with) with out intruding. Your honest answers have helped me. I feel like a whimp because I just haven't known what to say to them and have not been in touch with them yet. Now I realize that just facing it with them and letting them talk to me is what they need. I keep having these feeling like I need to SAY SOMETHING to make them feel better--and how impossible is that.
Also hahamommy, how have you helped your children? She (the friend who passed away) has a 3 yo daughter. I was hoping to send a book or connect them with a group that might help them help her daughter deal with this. Also the daughter was in the car when it wrecked and killed her mother, so there is probably a great deal of trauma from that. Any advice or info I could share with them would be so appreciated.
It is such a hard thing for me to even try to imagine going through. You ladies are so strong.
I know I have said this to you before hahamommy.
post #12 of 16

First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. Loosing a friend can feel so helpless. You must want so much to help, but you also need to find your own grief and move thorugh it.

When you said you want to take away thier pain but know you can't I think you really found what grief is about. It's a personal journey that you and your friends family are all on.

It will help your journey to reach out to them. Just calling, or sending a small note can make all the difference. I know when my daughter died I had one friend who called me almost every day. She's not good with feelings, so she just called to say hi and let me talk. It ment the world to me because I know it had to be so hard on her as well.

I'm going to PM Lisamarie becuase she has some great resources on support groups and childrens books. I'm sure she'll post here in the next day.

In the meentime, please feel free to post your questions and feelings here. This is a place for healing and your feelings and thoughts are always welcome.
post #13 of 16

I am so, so sorry to hear about your friend and what a dear, warm person you are for thinking of her family and kids. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness. As you said, just listening to them talk, cry and even scream is SO helpful. So many people are afraid of grief, so having someone to listen to you is wonderful

My dh died when my ds was 3 yo. It was very sudden and traumatic. I began taking my ds to a children's grief and loss counselor 2 days after my dh's death. It helped prepare myself and my ds for the funeral and for the days to come. Then we also attended a grief and loss family support group. It helped both of us so much~for me, how to parent a grieving child and for my ds, how to deal with his range of emotions. For myself, I also did something called EMDR. Its a very specific type of treatment to help with Post Traumatic Stress. They have used it on both adults and children with wonderful results.

There are alot of children's books about grief and loss that are wonderful and gentle. "When Dinosaurs Die", "When My Dad Died" and my favorite "Where is Grandpa?" And my favorite parenting book for kids who are grieving is called "Guiding Your Child Through Grief".

Again, my heart goes out to you and your friends family and please feel free to pm me if you have any other questions.

Much Love~

post #14 of 16
Thank you so much for the kind words. I called my friends and talked and felt much better...and worse. The pain for them is so hard. I found myself not know what to say. It's hard because I am in a different city, I wish I could be there just to get groceries, help take care of their daughter, etc....
But I have decided, even though it seems so hard to dial the number (is that aweful for me to say) that I will call them weekly or more to talk and listen. So difficult for me to imagine what they must be going through!

Thanks for the book suggetions. I am excited to send some to them in hopes they will help a little. They are taking their daughter to a therapist, hopefully it is a good one. I think it is always so hard to find a good therapist. 3 yo is so young to understand what has happened.
Lisa I will Pm you.

post #15 of 16
The book, Tear Soup, is beautifully written and illustrated.

Excerpt from Tear Soup found on web page, http://www.griefwatch.com/tearsoup/tshome.htm

"Tear Soup, a recipe for healing after loss is a family story book that centers around an old and somewhat wise woman, Grandy.* Grandy has just suffered a big loss in her life and so she is headed to the kitchen to make a special batch of Tear Soup.

There She chooses the size pot that is right for her loss, and she puts on her apron because she knows it's going to be messy.* And Grandy she starts to cry.* At first she weeps, then she sobs, eventually she wails.

Slowly the pot is filled with tears as the old woman steeps away.* To season her soup Grandy adds memories like the good times and the bad times, the silly and the sad times.* She does not want to forget one precious memory of her loss."
post #16 of 16

Thank you for sharing that wonderful website and that book. I have bookmarked it and intend to order some of there items!


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