When death occurs unexpectedly, survivors are typically in a state of shock. It’s later that they begin to feel the full impact of the loss. At this time, any expression of grief is important. Initially, listening is probably the greatest gift you can give your friend. Let her know that she and her feelings are important to you and that you’re willing to be there for her in whatever way she needs you. Do not hesitate to speak her husband’s or special person’s name or to talk about the person. Let her know how much the person meant to you and to others. It will be meaningful for you to share your memories of the person with her.
If you feel it’s appropriate, ask how you might help organize activities related to the funeral. It’s best to avoid offering advice. Instead, guide her gently or serve as a sounding board as she makes decisions. You might help with activities such as:
You may wish to help organize a system for keeping track of acts of kindness from family and friends. Note who brought food and flowers. Keep track of phone calls with expressions of grief. Organize cards. As the pace picks up, join with others in following through on planned activities.
The weeks and months to come will likely be very lonely and demanding. Your friendship can help significantly as your friend copes during this difficult time.
For more information see:
Adapted with permission from GriefWorks, Sam Quick, Professor Emeritus, Human Development and Family Relations Specialist, Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.