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How Can I Help a Friend Whose Parent Has Died?

I need advice.

This week one of my best friends lost her mother to cancer. I knew it was coming, but it was still jolting when I called to check in on her and learned that her mother had passed just that morning.

It made me really emotional and after getting off the phone I immediately called my own mother. I just wanted to hear her voice and tell her I loved her.

Also, I wanted her advice. I wanted to do something for my friend but I didn’t know what to do. My mom told me that she thought the best thing that I could do is to check in with my friend regularly and be proactive. She said that when she lost her father the hardest times were those when she was sad and none of her friends called to check in on her. She said it was easy to withdraw into herself and her grief. So, I intend to keep checking in with my friend and really let her know that I’m here for her.

I perused the web for other information on helping a friend who is dealing with a parent’s death and I came across a lot of interesting and useful information. One of the saddest things I found was accounts of people who had friends that never called to offer condolences and the pain that caused the person who was already suffering a loss. It was amazing to me that friends wouldn’t reach out to their friend in need.

Then again, I guess it wasn’t that shocking because people don’t know what to do or say in these situations. I guess that some people find it easier to just say nothing. From everything I read, that is the worst thing to do! I found a lot of advice on what to do on the internet and I’m just going to share a few of those ideas with you.

This blog post made a really great point about being there for the long haul, which I think is really important for me to keep in mind. Right now everything is busy and my friend is surrounded by family. Soon, they will all be gone and it will be back to ‘normal’ life. I want to make sure I am sensitive to the fact that my friend may be grieving for a long time. Also, this blog had a great idea about giving your friend a list of options (things I can do for you) and having the friend circle what they might need. I think this is a fantastic idea, especially because our friends may be reluctant to ask for help or just to overwhelmed.

This blog had some very practical examples of ways to help a friend whose parent died. This inspired me to ask my friend very specific questions, like ‘Can I help drive anyone around for you?’ and ‘Would it help if I took care of your dog for a few days?’. Asking for something specific proved to be more useful because the last thing that my friend needed was to try and think of ways for me to help her.

This blog has some really great ideas on what to say and NOT say to a person who is suffering a loss. I’m pretty sure that I have done the ‘try to make the person feel better’ thing.

This webpage is from a funeral home and it also has some good ideas on what to say and not say. I’m pretty sure that I may have said some of these things before too, like the ‘I know what you’re going through’

We all have to go through the experience of having loved ones die and our experiences are all unique. We also will have the experience of having close friends that lose a loved one. I feel more confident in ways to help my friend now, but I’m still looking for any advice you might have.

If you have lost someone close to you, what did friends do that was the most helpful?

What did they do that was not helpful?

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3 responses

  1. yes thank you for posting all of this

    April 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

  2. Stefany

    Oh Tracesea. I really like this post, and I gotta say, from the “friend” side it is interesting to think about! I have to tell you, THE most important thing to me is the fact that I know I can call you anytime, that you even called just to check in, ironically, on the day my mom passed, and have continued to check in with me since. I felt so much comfort when you told me that you would call me to check in a few days if you didn’t hear from me. You are the most amazing friend on the planet, and I love you so much. Thanks for being there for me during this sucky time.

    April 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

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