Several weeks ago I had a woman whose very good friend had recently lost her husband. She wanted to know what she could do to help her and also what not to say. What I suggested was: just be there for her friend, spend time together, and acknowledge that sometimes there are no words. Talk about her husband and share sweet memories, cry, and even laugh together. It’s not so much about what we say or don’t say as it is sharing their heart and grieving their loss with them.

Here are some other things I appreciated from friends helping me down this road of grieving:
1) I appreciated being invited into a home for a meal or invited out for a meal. I enjoyed lunches with girlfriends but also liked going out with a couple, even though it was hard at first, missing the person that was supposed to be sitting next to me and their conversation.
2) A phone call to let someone know you’re thinking of them and praying for them can be an encouragement that they need.
3) Go on a walk together. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about things when you’re side by side and not face-to-face.
4) Going to church alone is really hard, so see if you can sit with your friend and maybe go out for lunch or have them over afterward.
5) Saturday and Sunday nights are also hard. Invite your friend to go to a movie or a fun event together so they’re not sitting home alone every Saturday night.
6) Don’t ask, “How are you doing?” unless you really want to know, have time to listen, and are in a place where you can talk privately.
7) Avoid pity. It destroys self-respect. Simply understanding is enough.
8) Avoid clichés such as, “They’re in a better place.” Although that hopefully is true, the person grieving just wants them here now.
9) Allow them time to work through their grief. Be patient. Time does heal, but it still takes a lot of time. Their life is forever changed.
10) Be available and keep in touch.
11) Don’t attempt to tell them how they feel. Even to say, “I know how you must feel” is questionable. Every grief and loss is different. Just listen.
12) Be yourself. Show concern and sorrow in your own way.
13) Pray and ask God for wisdom and an understanding heart so that you might be an encouragement and source of strength for them. Pray for them and their family regularly.

~ Pat Estes