Seeing someone you love go through a tough time is so hard. But sometimes it’s even harder to know what to do to help. I recently received an email from a reader who asked for suggestions to help a friend recover from the loss of a companion. She said that the more suggestions she presents, the sadder he becomes. I ran across some excellent advice from grief educator Val Walker. Normally, I focus on fun or humorous posts, but I realize that life isn’t always fun or humorous. Walker’s advice could help us bring those elements back into a friend’s life.
Walker explained, “We are such a fix-it society, we think we are supposed to help the person feel better, instead of just listening… Alternatively, we often avoid people who are vulnerable, or in need because we feel uncomfortable with their emotions.” Walker says that the best support is to 1) Reach out in person. Don’t text, email, or FB message. Your tone of voice, eye contact, and touch are all important. 2) Listen to whatever your friend thinks is important to say. 3) Share an appropriate happy or touching memory. 4) Think what you can give to the person that will live on, that will comfort and inspire him into the future.
It’s been my experience that sometimes just doing something with the grieving person that he wants to do is the best medicine. The day we shot the finale for my music video, But I Do, the fiancé of one of the dancers had just died in a freak accident. I was ready to cancel the shoot, but he did not want that. He loved to dance. Finishing this project with people he cared about who cared about each other was what he wanted to do. When the shoot ended, he told me that it had been the best possible grief therapy.