Question: My best friend’s father just passed away. How do I support her?
Answer by Miss Siti Mariam, Senior Therapist and Expert in End-of-Life Issues.
My condolences to your friend.
Not knowing what to say is common. Offer your condolences and be available. Such situations can be awkward and uncomfortable. It is okay not to have anything to say or know what to do.
Sometimes, we get curious about what has happened. You are there for your friend, and not to satisfy your curiousity. If your friend wants to share, let him and if he doesn’t, just be present and respectful to the pain of his loss. In grieving, some people prefer to be doing things, stay with their emotions or both. Do what feels right for your friend.
Restrain from saying things like “pain will heal all wound”, “don’t cry and just move on”, “you should be crying”, “he’s in a better place”. These are commonly said words as we don’t know what else to say but these can sound dismissive of the loss. Everyone grieves differently. The last thing someone in grief needs is to be told how to and how not to grief. Just look out for your friend quietly to ensure he is not harming himself.
Not wanting to eat and rest is normal when the grief is acutely felt. Gently encourage your friend to take small bites and sips of water. Volunteer to help out such as attending to guests, helping to inform colleagues at work, take over sone responsibilities at work, getting things for the funeral, looking after his young children, etc. depending on what is appropriate. Do not take over, but gently offer your help to be respectful.
It is normal for your friend to feel the acute grief even after some time has passed as if it has just happened yesterday. If your friend continues to have difficulty functioning in his personal and professional capacity, and symptoms seemed to be worsening, even after some time has passed, do consider encouraging your friend to speak to a professional.