Friends & Whanau
If you know someone who is grieving the death of someone close, you may wonder how best to support them. Good on you for caring.
We know that socialising after the death of a child can often be very daunting for a newly bereaved parent. The energy required to make small talk can be exhausting. The conversation is meaningless when you’re dealing with deep pain and grief. Some days it’s so much easier to withdraw, but strong connections can help a grieving person feel better and stay well.
Try some of these ideas to help your friend or whanau:
- Invite your friend for a walk– the conversation is likely to flow easier while relaxing in nature.
- Invite the grieving family over for a meal or drinks. Speak openly of your shared memories. Encourage them to talk openly about their child.
- Encourage your friend to spend more time with young children or grandchildren. Their sense of play, escapism and joy can be uplifting.
- Ask them if they’d like a private Facebook group set up. Where they can safely share their thoughts and bad days with selected friends and family.
- Invite your friend to join an exercise class or Meet Up walking group for a social restart. That way they’re ‘safely socialising’ with you yet mixing with new people.
- Reach out to the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
Your friend or family member may want to talk about the child who has died. One of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen and give them time and space to grieve.
Offering specific practical help, like inviting siblings to stay, not vague general offers, can also be very helpful.
Accept that everyone grieves in their own way. There is no 'normal' way and that working through grief can take a long time.
Try not to:
- Avoid someone who has been bereaved - That can double a sense of loss.
- Use clichés such as 'I understand how you feel'; 'You'll get over it' or the clanger of 'Time heals'.
- Tell them it's time to move on, they should be over it - how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
- Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger when you ask them ‘how they’re feeling’.
- Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.
We don't run grief support groups, provide counselling or therapeutic advice. We do help parents connect with others and share resources.