Grief is a funny thing- we all feel it at some point or another, and yet when we are confronted with grief in the life of a friend or family member, it can be really hard to know how to react and support them the best.
After going through several devastating miscarriages in the past few years, I have seen some amazing showings of support from friends and family- and had some pretty terrible things said to me, too (probably with great intentions). With that, I want to offer a simple list of ideas to show a grieving friend that you care, no matter what the circumstance might be.
COOK THEM SOMETHING
This could be as elaborate as setting up some kind of meal train, or as simple as baking some cookies and leaving them by the door. Cooking, while good self care and distraction for some, can turn into a burdensome chore in a time of distress- and, lets be honest, eating for comfort is totally a thing. If you don’t cook, buy something already made, or think about sending a box from Blue Apron or another similar service. We had a Blue Apron box sent to us after we lost our son, and it was a huge blessing to just not have to think about what I was cooking.
MEMORIALIZE THE LOST LOVED ONE
This can look a lot of different ways, depending on what might speak to your friend- personalized jewelry, printing out photos, making a slide show of memories, making a pillow out of someone’s clothing. Two of my most precious possessions are a necklace with all of my babies’ birthstones (gifted to me by my best friends) and a pillow made from my grandfather’s favorite shirt after he passed away.
Babysitting, cleaning, groceries, gas, dog walking, school runs- anything that involves getting up off the couch or out of bed, offer to do it! Particularly if you’re really good at one of those things.
TEXT, CALL, OR EMAIL
Maybe this seems simple, but check up on your friend. Set a reminder on your phone every few days to see how they are doing- tell them you are thinking of them and praying for them and just generally here if they need it.
MAKE A CARE PACKAGE
This can be fun and easy- put together a little basket or box of nice things for your friend! Candy, a new CD or DVD, beer or wine, bath products, a new-to-them book, gift cards, a mug and some tea or coffee, a soft blanket- anything to pamper your friend a bit and make them feel loved and known.
OFFER A DISTRACTION
Sometimes we just need a girls night out, or a night in with a movie, or a pedicure, or to go bowling, or to go to the zoo. Offer up some of these ideas to your friend and try to get them social, if they’re up for it!
SEND FLOWERS OR A PLANT
I’ll never forget our friends sending us an orchid in the mail- they lived in Africa! They used ProPlants to send us a beautiful orchid and it meant the world. This is a great idea if you live far away.
Birthdays, due dates, anniversaries of passing- remembering and acknowledging these things, especially in the future, will mean more than you know. Set a reminder in your phone or write it in your calendar- maybe even a few days ahead so you can send a card.
ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED
Sometimes, there may be a need that you can’t possibly anticipate- maybe something work related or health related or whatnot- and you might only know it’s there if you ask. There might not be a specific need, but on the off chance there is, you could really bless your friend in a big way.
Funerals, memorials, church services, what have you- go there. If you’re on the fence, do it. I have always lived by this rule- it’s better to show up and be supportive but maybe feel a little awkward than it is to miss out on the chance to support and love on a friend. Years later, I have had friends tell me how much it meant to them that I went out of my way to attend a memorial or funeral that I had initially doubted whether or not I should attend. Make the choice to be there.
AND, SOME THINGS NOT TO DO…
“God’s got a plan”, “time heals”, “they’re in a better place”, “you can try again”, “you can have another”- maybe all of those things are true, but they aren’t helpful. Say things like “I’m so sorry”, and “I’m here for you”.
One of the hardest, to be sure. “God needed another angel” or “there must have been something wrong with that one” or “it was their time”- again, these things just make it worse. Just listen to your friend and affirm them. Let them feel what they feel and be by their side.
Finally, don’t duck and cover. Lean into the awkwardness and the pain and just be there- be present with your friend- even if you don’t totally know what to do. The worst thing you can do is disappear. Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas of what to do instead!