This month and last month, two of my friends lost their husbands to illness, one lost a child and one had the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. All during the holiday season.
I know it doesn’t hurt more or less depending on the time of year a loved one dies, but the holidays do focus on family, and a piece of theirs went missing so recently.
To be honest, I am not a comforter. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, I get super uncomfortable when someone cries to me, and I really didn’t do a great job with the friend who lost her husband last year. We’re still close, so I went to her for some practical advice on how to be a good friend to someone who has recently lost a loved one. Each person and situation is different, but I thought I would share some of the advice she gave me.
Here are her words:
“Be there. Be physically there if at all possible. There were some times that I said I didn’t need anything and would rather be alone, but it usually was just me trying not to take up their time or not understanding that I actually needed people around me at that moment.
“One of the most practical things that helped me was a friend who was going grocery shopping for her family and gave me three options: I could go with her and just chat while we were shopping, I could send her a list and she’d get my groceries for me, or I could place an online order and she’d pick it up and bring it over. It was so helpful to have someone help me handle something that seemed pretty small, but made a huge impact on my week.
“Even if you don’t know what to say, if you’re praying for me or even just thinking about me, reach out and let me know. Even just saying, ‘I don’t even know what to say, just know I’m thinking of you and praying for your family,’ means so much. And, honestly, I’m not usually looking for ‘advice’ people give when a loved one passes away. It helps to know that I’m not alone or forgotten.
“Sometimes I just don’t feel like responding. I am trying. There are good days, there are bad days and there are really bad days. Sometimes I’m having a really bad day and I get your message and can’t bring myself to say anything, because I really don’t know what to say or don’t feel like talking. Please just continue to love on me during these times when I’m not reciprocating.”