The magnitude of losing someone only begins with the funeral or memorial service. The first months can be extremely lonely as the reality sets in. Of course, there will still be good days, but life will be very different and pretty surreal.
The loss of a family member or close friend brings many life-altering changes and difficult, emotional work. Naturally, it all depends on who is missing from the once regular routine and what that means to your friend. Here are some examples:
- If a spouse has died, that may mean selling a home and moving to a smaller place, incurring a burden of debt, possibly finding new employment and emotionally supporting the kids.
- The loss of an elderly parent may require a complicated clean-out, dividing possessions between family members and planning an estate sale. There might be uncomfortable conversations about wills and inheritance.
- The death of a child or teenager could involve everything from communicating with their school, to paying steep medical bills and sudden funeral costs, to details like managing their social media accounts.
- Losing a sibling may mean taking on newfound responsibilities: spending more time with the bereaved parents, picking up nieces and nephews from baseball practice, or finding a way to answer the age-old question we’ve all answered a million times in our lives: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
- When a very close friend dies, long-held routines can shatter—no more Saturday morning coffees, no one to call first for advice and reassurance, an empty seat in the pew at church.
Your friendship will morph and evolve, too.
Reaching out to a grieving friend?
Consider these things:
- Listen to your friend: Are they needing their space or a shoulder to lean on?
- Pay attention to how they respond to your support: Are they sharing a little more or acting like they’d rather not talk about it?
- Give them time: Your friend may not want to talk every day or even every week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t send messages of support here and there: a short note, a text with a heart emoji or a message left without expectation of a return call. Keeping a connection can lead to helping them out later in bigger ways.