Using acronyms, here is what friends can do to help or hinder a grieving friend:
H - hug and cry with them (arms/eyes)
E - engage them in activities (hands)
L - listen to them (ears)
P - pray with them and for them (heart)
S - say you are sorry/sad. That’s it! (mouth)
or seek help (feet)
H - hurt with insensitive comments (mouth)
I - is immobilized by fear
N - not ask about their baby (mouth)
D - diminish grief/deny their feelings (mouth)
E - expect too much (mouth)
R - run away/hide
S - say nothing – (as if it never happened) (mouth)
Notice to the right of each action is the part of the body used to do that action. What is interesting is that a helpful friend uses their whole body to help. An unhelpful friend uses his/her mouth for the damage inflicted.
So, What Can a Friend Do?
Offer a tear, a hug, a sign of love.
Listen, talk about the death. Ask questions.
Ask if parents feel like talking.
Realize how big this loss is and the importance of the baby.
Stay away from “stupid” comments.
Send a note, card, or poem.
Bring a plate of goodies/ casserole to family.
Offer to baby-sit living kids, do laundry, etc.
Bring a book that might offer comfort.
Give a plant or other token of remembrance.
Help them find a support group.
Don’t compare deaths.
Pray with and for them.
Know that we are changed forever.
Know grief takes time!!!!!
We will encounter friends who fall into both categories and some who have done things that both help and hinder. The point is to know that, for the most part, friends behave the way they do out of fear or ignorance if what they do hurts or hinders you. Try to forgive them when they mess up and politely inform them if they hurt your feelings. They mean well. Be grateful for the friends who stick with you and let you cry on their shoulder and ask how you are doing (and really want to know).
Make a list of friends I can count on.
Look for a support group as well. Some of the people in that group can become some of your closest allies and friends. They are always there for you (even years later). They listen. They do know what you are feeling, and they don’t think you are “crazy.”
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