Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Helping A Friend Who's Grieving A Friend

This post was originally titled "Do You Need Any Help?" It's what most people say when told someone has died. But that question is normally directed to the family, not the friends.
Chances are, when your friend died the only response you got was "that's too bad". You probably weren't asked if you needed help, or even how you were coping.
If you know someone who's lost a friend, reach out to them. Ask them, but try to be specific about what you're offering. Better yet, just offer to listen.

When someone dies, most people have good intentions. They want to mourn, they want to remember. And they want to help those who are grieving themselves.
Often, when you grieve the death of a friend, the focus is on their family. They are the “primary” mourners. They are the ones who get the most sympathy. And families do deserve sympathy and support.
The standard question is, “do you need any help?” Now that’s not always the best thing to ask. For one, it puts the burden on the griever to identify and express that need. They may not be thinking clearly enough to do that. It can also come off as insincere, as if the person asking is hoping the answer is no.
Even so, it is a reaching out, however imperfect, to those who grieve.
But who asks the friends?
Sometime the death of a friend can cause paralyzing grief, the kind where you wander around the house, not able to focus or think.
Maybe you were lucky. When your friend died, maybe those around you asked how they could help you. Most likely, they didn’t.
If you know someone who’s grieving the death of a friend, acknowledge it. Ask if there’s something you can do to help. Better yet, suggest something you are willing and able to do, the most important thing of all: listen.
Ask them to tell you about their friend.
It will mean the world to them.
Do it.