Words to Comfort a Grieving Friend: Helping a Pal in Need
Written by: Vasundhara Shukla M. Phil – (Psychology)
Last updated date : February 28, 2022
Grief is a feeling that we experience when faced with loss. When we want to comfort a grieving friend the first question that pops up in our head is- what should I say to make them feel better? The truth is there is nothing you can say that will turn their mood around suddenly. Grieving is a process where we come to terms with the loss and how our lives will be without the person who is no more. But as a friend , you might think it is upon you to make your friend feel better. In this article we are going to delve into the words you can use to comfort a grieving friend, which uplifting comfort quotes you can use in the time of grief and other do’s and don’ts to help your friend through this tough time.
What Is Grief?
True empathy involves coming in the shoes of the other person. To help a friend, you must also know what is he or she going through. Grief is a natural reaction to losing someone. Grief is difficult to understand because everyone has a different way to grieve. It is not as simple as ‘time heals all’ or ‘they are in a better place. Grief involves passing through some stages like-
- Denying that this happened. A person who is grieving will not believe that their loved one is no more. They will deny it and try to find clues to prove that they are right.
- They will be angry. This can be directed towards god, doctors, other family members, the person who passed, and even themselves.
- They might bargain with god to bring the deceased back. They will offer things in exchange for this bargain.
- Depression will set in when they will see none of their efforts are successful in bringing the person back.
- They will accept that the loss is permanent and they will have to live with it.
The process of moving on is different for different people. But research has shown most people go through the above stages but their order and timing might be different. To comfort a grieving friend you should also know what is and what is not acceptable to say to them. Using these cues you can quote some things that are uplifting and will comfort the feelings of grief.
Do’s and Don’ts of Comforting a Grieving Friend
Do Reach Out:
Talk to your friend and be there for them. They would appreciate your support during a tough time and they will also know that they can talk to someone when they want to..
Do Validate How They Are Feeling:
They might be feeling many things at once and will need time to make sense of everything. Let them know it is okay to feel this way and that there are no set rules on how you should feel during these times.
Do Express Your Love:
They need care and attention more than ever. Express that you love them and are available for them whenever they need you.
Do Acknowledge That Things Aren’t Going Well:
Don’t try to put a positive spin on things just to change their mood. Acknowledge that things are truly bad as it hurts more when you try to ignore their misery. Grief involves sorrow, let your friend feel the emotional roller coaster inside them.
Do Provide Solutions:
Give them doable solutions for the problems they are facing and try to take over some responsibilities off their hands if you can.
Do Check Up on Them from Time to Time:
Keep checking up on them to know if they are looking after their health, having meals, and can get some rest.
Do Your Preparations to Handle Your Friend’s Emotional Lows:
Your friend is dealing with many emotions at once and might be irritated, sad, and angry. You have to know that it is a part of the grief process and be prepared if they reach out to you.
Do Be Careful of What You Say:
Words can heal when used properly and they can comfort a grieving friend as well. Be mindful of what you say. Remember that you are not expected to say something that will pull them out of their pain but your words should not make them feel worse.
Don’t Wait to Talk to Them:
It can be unnerving to talk to your friend after their loss. But remember that they do expect you to make them feel happy as if nothing happened. They know that nothing you say will make the pain go away but your words and quotes will provide comfort and help in uplifting them from grief for a short time. Tell them that they are in your thoughts and prayers.
Don’t Use Your Religious Faith as a Quick Fix, Especially If They Don’t Share It
Let your friend do most of the talking. Avoid forcing your religious views on your friend or try to explain things using your religious beliefs.
Don’t Discount Their Feelings
Saying things like ‘ these things happen, you have to move on with your life or ‘He or she would have wanted you to move on can do a lot of harm. If you diminish their feelings this way, you are telling them to bottle things up. By encouraging your friend to express how they feel, you would give them an outlet to give words to their grief.
Don’t Compare It to What You Have Experienced in the Past
Let the conversation be for your friend to express his or her grief. Avoid comparing how you handled losses in the past as everyone has a different way of feeling and expressing grief.
Don’t Gossip about It
This is a piece of private information that you must not discuss with others. If your friend wants to share it, they will do so themselves. Don’t sensationalize and spread this information.
In the end, understand that your friend will take time to be his or her normal self again. You can make the process a little easier by comforting your grieving friend using your words. They might also experience emotions like irritation and anger which may be overwhelming to handle. You should direct them to people or resources that can help them in dealing with these feelings. We have an excellent course to manage difficult emotions like anger ‘DBT for Anger’. Please consider enrolling in it or recommending it to someone who you think needs it.