Sometimes the best advice, is no advice at all. At least, when you are talking with someone who is grieving.
Consoling a grieving friend can be a difficult thing to do, especially when one has not faced grief in their own life. Our natural instinct, when a friend is facing problems is to provide solutions. It is quite normal for us to want to give advice that will help our friends solve the problem. But grief, is not a normal problem.
The last thing a grieving person needs—or wants, is advice. What they need most is someone who will just listen. Someone who will just be there with them. To hold space for them. If they cry, just hug them or hold their hand, or whatever you are comfortable doing to let them know you are with them. The urge to say something will creep up as you feel you have to say something wise to help. Don’t! Just be there. As uncomfortable as you may feel in the silence, resist the temptation to speak.
If the grieving person starts to talk, just listen, and listen intently. What your friend needs more than anything, even though they may not realize it; is to just talk. To express their feelings and emotions. It is fantastic therapy. Again, resist the urge to tell them about your experience, even if you have known the pangs of grief. If they pause, ask simple questions to encourage them to talk, and then just listen. It’s okay to cause tears. Don’t afraid to take them down memory lane with their departed loved one. They may weep, but they need to let those emotions escape.
If you must say something, just be brutally honest. In the early days of my grief, when friends would simply say, “This sucks.” I wanted to hug them. Yes, it is stating the obvious, but I wanted others to share my opinion that losing my wife just sucks. I didn’t want to hear that in time I would adjust to my new life; or how fortunate I was to have had all those years with Crystle. I know that innately, but I was not ready to process that.
Don’t be afraid of the silence. The best advice, is often no advice.