When someone dies, their loved ones often feel numb during the days and weeks that follow. Here at Krause Funeral Homes, our professional staff helps families in Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield, who are in a state of shock and grief, plan meaningful funerals and cremations. Our many decades of service has taught us how to stand alongside those who have experienced a loss.
We realize it can be hard to know what to say or do after someone dies. Awkwardness or fear of doing or saying something wrong can keep many people back from reaching out. But we can’t overstate the importance of connecting during this time. In this two-part blog series, we’ll offer practical ways you can show your grieving friend you care. Eventually, we’ll all have a friend lose someone they love; make sure you know what to do when the time comes.
Reach out regularly. Whether you set an alarm on your phone reminding you to check in with your friend via text or phone, or send them an encouraging e-mail every morning, regular contact is meaningful. This doesn’t mean an hour-long conversation every day. A simple “How are you doing?” or “I’m thinking about you and am here for you,” is all it takes. Some days, your friend may not respond and that’s fine. They may not have the energy to pick up the phone or make conversation. Continue to show you care with a personal word or note. It’s worth the effort.
Listen carefully and attentively. How many times have you interjected your own story or personal experience into a conversation because you didn’t know what to say? When your grieving friend is talking to you, do your best to simply listen rather than comparing your experience to theirs or offering advice. Tell them how sorry you are, how awful their loss is, and that you see how much pain he or she is in. Listening and understanding are two of the most valuable gifts you can give.
Keep your expectations for your friend in check. When someone is hurting, they may not act like themselves. They might say inappropriate things, react in unexpected ways (laughing instead of crying), or you may feel they’re trying to shut you out. Grief looks different on every person, and it’s important to continue to love them as they experience sadness, anger, and other emotions that are unfamiliar. Even if you feel they’re pulling away from you, make sure they know you’re there for them whenever they need you.
Send a sympathy card with a personal message about their loved one. Opening the mailbox and receiving a card with a hand-written note can bring a great measure of comfort to those who experience loss. Include a funny story, a memory you cherish, or a few sentences about what you’ll miss most about their loved one. Someone in grief may read these messages over and over again, drawing reassurance from the memories and from knowing they are not alone.
Remember your friend on “big days.” Grief doesn’t simply disappear after a few weeks or months. When the funeral service is over, when family has gone home and the phone stops ringing, continue to be there for your friend. You might offer to visit the gravesite on the 3- or 6-month anniversary of the death, or take your friend out to dinner on Valentine’s Day or their loved one’s birthday. Holidays are usually a challenge for those who are grieving, so try to include them any way you can. But always be understanding if they should decline.
At Krause Funeral Homes, our team sees it as part of our mission to help families before, during, and after the funeral, which is why we offer assistance in the form of resources, interactive grief support, and our grief therapy dog, Bennie. To learn more, we invite you to connect with us any time. And don’t forget to come back next month to read part two of this series on how to help a grieving friend.