How to be a good friend to someone grieving

By Nick, with a lil help from Lori.

Everyone needs a good friend; someone stable, caring and understanding. Someone who doesn’t judge, accepts the griever for who they are, is important to them. They lost someone who they had the utmost trust in; now, that trust has to be invested in someone that wont hurt them.
By no means am I an expert in understanding the mind of a grieving person. I speak merely from experience of dealing with a singular person. But I think alot of the advice I can offer translates to everyone.
Here are ten things to do for your loved one who is in mourning.

Andrae’s loved ones at his grave site.

• Be like Hootie; let him/her cry:
Managing emotions are so important. They should never be repressed. Granted, it can be like your going through the loop-d-loop on a roller coaster; but those emotions will only be built up and turn into something worse if repressed. If they start talking, be accepting and open. They just want to be heard.

• Know their trigger words:
While it’s healthy to let emotions flow, it can be overly draining. For instance, in my situation, I know if I ask her “how are you,” she is only going to be sad. While it is important to be sad (a really sad thing happened), so much sadness can hurt. If you can steer the conversation away from a day of unnecessary  sadness, then you are, at the very least, letting them live their lives in a normal fashion.

•Be a clown:
This works well for me. I actually made up a philosophy before I went deep into dealing with her. I know there is no way I can fix it, The men in my family have a tendency to try to fix things, but I know I can delay the pain. If I can make her laugh and take her mind off of it, even if just for five minutes, then I have done my job.

• Be prepared:
You never know when a breakdown will happen. It may be in the freezer aisle at walmart, it may be at an infinity dealership. The important thing is to roll with the punches.

•Unexpected fun is where it is won:
Currently I am studying to be a teacher, in that process I have learned that kids need routine. Something to make them feel safe and stable. But what happens when the stability is stricken and only synthesizes more sadness? They need adventure! They need to find out who they are without said person in their life. The philosophy comes from “P.S. I Love You.” Take them on a trip, make up a scavenger hunt around the city, do anything!

• Honor the passed, don’t become them.
It’s important to not emulate the stories they will tell about their loved one. You don’t have to become them. You are yourself. They are confiding in you because they love you and want to share the memories of their loved one. Honor and remember their loved one in a way unique to you, don’t copy them.

• keep your phone on and beside the bed.
I don’t know how many of you are country music buffs, but I call this my “More than a memory” rule. They will need to talk at the weirdest hours. It can be three in the afternoon, it can be three in the morning. Be open. Regardless of what religion you follow, there is some sort of karmic retribution in this world. Good things will eventually come.

• Sometimes there don’t need to be any words.
I need to fill silences. It is a fault. Especially given my nature/profession. I always think I have the words to “fix it.” But, sadly, I can’t fix it; even if I want to so badly. Sometimes you have to listen as a child would to a story. The griever, above all things, just wants to be heard. They know you cant fix it. Youre there to learn.

•dont be afraid to cry
I haven’t had this yet. But I think it is an important point to address. All of this is sad. It is ok for you to show emotion. The odds are it will be assuring to the griever. Seeing that, right next to them, allows them to know someone is beside them in this journey.

•There is no manual; just things to consider.
Something I struggle with is the last point. The last point is equivalent to truth in my mind. There is only one point I can say is the overwhelming truth in this. Look in his/her eyes. If you do not have the stamina for this, get out. They don’t want someone who will flake 3 months in. They need someone to be right beside them. Your human. They understand and will accept that. But if it gets real and you run, then they will never be able see you in the same light.

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