How many times have you had a friend going through some kind of grief or hardship and you can’t think of how you can support them?
Are you guilty of telling them, “Let me know if you need anything?”
Now really think about it. How many times have they actually came back and told you what they need help with?
Most of the time they don’t. I know it’s hard. You want to help but you don’t know how and you’re afraid that you’ll be a bother instead of a source of comfort. I get it. I’ve thought all of that and more.
After walking with some friends through their grief and hardships I decided that I was going to be more active in helping them through their hard times, so I started showing up. In that I learned a few things. Let’s jump right into it.
DON’T ASK THEM WHAY YOU CAN DO
I know this is second nature for most of us but just don’t do it. They are grieving or working through something big right now so the last thing on their mind is the checklist of things they wish people would help them with. Honestly, they probably have no idea what you could do to help them. They wish you could say some magic words to take all the pain away, but we aren’t Cinderella’s fairy god mother.
If they are thinking, “It would be nice if someone cleaned my house.” it’s going to remain just that, a thought. They don’t want to be a burden during their grief so they’re going to just handle it themselves.
So instead of asking them what you can do or telling them to let you know if they need anything choose one or more of the things below and just start showing up for them.
Bring them a coffee, dessert, gift etc
One of the easiest ways to show up for your friend is to bring them a small gift of some kind.
The day after I got in a car accident that left my car totaled and me in so much pain and soreness I was laying on my dining room floor crying. I hurt and was trying to chase around a ton of little minions while on and off the phone with insurance and car rental places.
As I’m laying on the floor I get a simple text from a friend, “There’s something by your front door for you.”
I got up, opened my front door, and just started crying again. Sitting on my porch was a bottle of wine and a cute little card.
GUYS, that simple gesture of kindness made my day. I knew my situation wasn’t horrible but the fact that a friend chose to go out of her way to offer me some comfort was so heartwarming.
Showing up in this way is simple. All you have to do is drop a gift of some sort on their porch. It can be a card, a coffee, a bottle of wine, a gift basket, a new movie, a gift card, a homemade gift. Really anything. Well, maybe not anything. A gift certificate to your local therapist may be a little insensitive. Use your judgment and choose a gift accordingly.
If you’re buying them something like a coffee or wine and you’re not sure what they like just text and ask. Don’t ask them if they want a coffee, just say your bringing them a coffee from Joe Shmo’s coffee what do you like. Most people, if given the choice, will always turn away help or kind blessings. They don’t want to impose so don’t give them the option to turn you away.
In the end they won’t remember all the times you asked if they needed anything, but they will remember when you dropped a gift off on their porch.
Clean Their House
This can be tricky so you may need to coordinate with the spouse but cleaning your grieving friends’ home can take so much weight off their shoulders. As mom’s we have a lot of responsibilities and for the most part, they can be a lot to keep up with, but trying to keep up with them while a cloud of sadness follows day in, and day out is overwhelming. Cleaning their house will be a breath of fresh air for them.
You can either clean the house yourself, with a few friends, or even hire and pay for a cleaning lady.
If you have to coordinate with the grieving friend tell them, you’re cleaning their house or hiring someone to clean their house and you just need to know what day works best for them to come over and clean.
If they have kids take them for a few hours to give the mom some peace. Go to the zoo, a museum, park, or just back to your house. Just take them and let them have some fun while getting away from the grieving and hopefully back to some normalcy.
Start A Help Train
This is super easy to coordinate through Meal Train and Sign Up Genius. Through Meal Train you set up a place for people to come and sign up to bring the family meals. You can choose what days are available for meals to be brought, what kind of food restrictions the family has, and when and where to drop the meals off to.
Through Sign Up Genius you can put together a schedule and of days and tims to help the family. This can be babysitting, cleaning, running errands and more. One person makes the schedule and then shares it with all the friends and family. Then everyone signs up for a time when they can help out.
Buy Them Groceries
When you’re grieving or going through a hard season of life you forget things constantly and just keeping up with daily life can be hard. To help show some support to your friend while also making life a little easier for her, bring her some groceries. I don’t mean just food, I’m talking paper plates, paper towels, laundry detergent, soap, toothpaste etc. The things you can stock her up on and take one thing off her mind and plate.
I know this probably sounds stupid, but it has to be said. Just listen. When they open up and start talking more about what their walking through LISTEN. Don’t try to fix it, just listen. Make yourself a person they can come to unload. Just having someone who will listen without comparing, without trying to fix it, and without interrupting is priceless. Make yourself be that person for them.
DON’T SILVERLINE THEIR GRIEF
Whatever you do, DON’T SILVERLINE THEIR GRIEF! Just stop it. They don’t need to hear,
- God has a plan.
- God turns everything into good.
- They are in a better place.
- At least it isn’t worse.
JUST STOP IT!
When you’re about to say something like this remind yourself that you’re there to just listen and comfort. THAT’S IT.
When we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd girl we had to walk through a season of grief. I was done having babies, beyond done. This meant that even though we still planned on adopting we knew we would never have a biological son. It was weird and hard to accept. We were told time and time again by well-meaning people, “God just knows you’re a great parent to girls.” As well intentioned as this is it was hurtful. We both instantly thought, “Oh so we wouldn’t be a good parent to a boy?”
Do you see now how your well-intentioned remarks are hurtful? So just listen. That all they need from you.
Call or Show Up
Being present through your friend’s grief will mean more to her than anything. Knowing someone cares about you enough to show up and offer some sort of comfort is the best feeling for the person going through the grief.
This can be a simple call to check in on them, a short stop by their house, or a mixture of anything I listed above.
Keep showing up. Grief and hardships are continuous.
Grief and seasons of trials are weird. They don’t have an expiration date.
Even though your friend’s mom passed away 2 months or even a year ago they are still walking through grief. Even through it’s been two years since your friend lost her baby, she is still grieving. Even though it’s been 8 months since your friend and her husband got a divorce she is still grieving. Show up and show up again, and again, and again.
Next time your friend is going through grief or a hardship choose a few of the tips above and show your support during their hard season. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In reality we make it more so in our head than it needs to be. Don’t think about what they will think of you or if you will be a bother to them. Just show up. If you’re too much for them, most of the time they will let you know to back off.
In the end you wont regret showing up and being there for your friend, but you will regret it if you don’t.
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