I began this 2 post series discussing the grief work that my friend will have to go through as the result of his father’s death. It is definitely worth a look.
How can those that care for my friend be of the best support and service to him? First and foremost, his friends should not expect him to “get over it.” While there is no set map for helping someone deal with grief, particularly the grief of losing a loved one, there are some things to keep in mind.
Your friend or loved one is on a journey, a journey without a definitive end and a journey without a definitive path. Your friend will need to travel the uncharted path themselves. You can, and must, support them, but you can’t travel the path for them or really with them. Realize that they will change, that their life will change. That change is necessary and is a part of the grief work journey. Their relationships will change, likely even their relationship with you. Their emotional energy investments will change. Do your best to accept and accommodate all of those changes. Support them, be honest with them, leave the routine platitudes at the door.
Also, importantly, if they become stuck or crippled by the work they are doing, push them to get professional help. Grief work is painful, but it should not be destructive. By the same token, keep in mind that grief work takes time, months or more, and they must be given the time they need. Continue to support them and give them latitude, that may be hardest bit of the work for you.
Grief can be an annealing fire. It burns through us. It changes us. Grief can be survived. You need to ride it, don’t let it ride you.