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Thread: How do you support a friend who's lost their father?

  1. #1
    angela89
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    How do you support a friend who's lost their father?

    My friend's (lets call her Sue) father past away recently and i'm not sure how to support her. I've never had to deal with a death before so this is all new to me. We were best friends in highschool and now that we're in university we still remain good friends.

    Do people want space? Attention? To be distracted? Should I stand back and wait for her to ask for my help? What are some comforting things to say other than "I'm so sorry for your loss" or something really generic.

  2. #2
    -Sanguine-
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    From experience, really anything is nice. I remember when my dad passed away something that I really loved was that my best friend bought me my favorite magazine and a stuffed bear. I'm not saying you should buy her presents and it will make her feel better, but I thought it was something really thoughtful.

    For me, it was just nice to be in the company of my friends. I didn't really want to talk about it at the time, but for them to just be there in case I ever did was good. I think a distraction is a good thing. It really depends on your friend, though. Her situation could be much different.

  3. #3
    jahur

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    Quote Originally Posted by angela89 [Register to see the link]
    My friend's (lets call her Sue) father past away recently and i'm not sure how to support her. I've never had to deal with a death before so this is all new to me. We were best friends in highschool and now that we're in university we still remain good friends.

    Do people want space? Attention? To be distracted? Should I stand back and wait for her to ask for my help? What are some comforting things to say other than "I'm so sorry for your loss" or something really generic.
    for me when my dad died i was 14, i just wanted people to carry on around me and not be on eggshells. i use to work as a golf caddy and the morning of his death i went to work, the best thing i did and i know thats what he would have wanted. it was work that put him in his early grave.

    some people have different reactions to death, just gauge what they want or just simply ask if there is anything you can do for them. listen and respect what they want. no more you can do other than that really.

  4. #4
    livelarge
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    Honestly the people who helped me the most through my sister's recent passing were the people who would laugh with me because I needed a break from all the family sadness. I wouldn't do space unless they ask for it because it feels like abandonment and you just lost somebody, you don't want to loose all your friends too.

    But that may be just my perception of it. Grief is different for everybody. "Is there anything I can do for you?" is perfectly acceptable to ask. I almost asked my neighbor to bake me a cake because I had a craving when he asked. I wouldn't have minded hearing, "Do you need space?"

  5. #5
    itsallgrand
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    I was 14 too when I lost my dad, and I agree with jahur for the most part. I didn't want people walking on eggshells or treating me suddenly so differently, almost a fear, which a lot of my friends did.

    The friends that stick out to me as being huge anchors for me at that time were ones who continued to talk to me as the person I was beforehand. They called like they used to. Asked me out to do things. Let me talk when I wanted to about dad, and about other things too.

    In a sea of grief, it's really easy to pull away and lose yourself some. It helps having friends who remember who you are, and are there for you.

    I wouldn't worry about giving her space. She'll let you know if she wants it or needs it. She'll appreciate you reaching out. It's not easy to reach out after losing someone.

    I wouldn't worry about comforting things to say too much either. If you are there for her, your presence really says it all. So long as what you say is sincere, it'll be good.

    It's lovely of you to think of your friend now. That's the main thing!

  6. #6
    RelaxByWater84
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    Its not easy as I am trying to be there for my roommate as she recently lost her father.

    Try not to get mad at them when they forget things. Just gently remind them if its about rent or something like that.

    One of the best things I did was mention a memory I had of her father doing something funny to make someone who was feeling down laugh. It made her feel better.

    Keeping your mouth shut and listen with both ears.

    Don't look at them with pity, most people don't like it.

    Don't be afraid to shed a few tears with them if they are crying as well.

    Do some practical stuff for them such as washing the dishes and keeping house, cook a meal, water their plants, pick up their mail etc, etc.

    One article I read told us to send cards that say "Thinking of You" or if you live with them place one where they can see it. This way they know that they are being thought of in their time of grief.

    It won't be easy and they fact that you are posting asking for help proves what a great friend you are.

  7. #7
    jahur

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    Quote Originally Posted by RelaxByWater84 [Register to see the link]
    It won't be easy and they fact that you are posting asking for help proves what a great friend you are.
    well spotted!

  8. #8
    _Asti_
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    My Mother recently passed, and for me...what matters the most is when people don't 'shy' away from that topic, or walk on eggshells.

    The ones who are helping me the most are the ones who aren't afraid to ask "So how was Mother's Day..." the ones who I can open up to without them scurrrying away or having it feel awkward.

    I always want to talk about my Mom, so having someone ask is great. But thats just me.

  9. #9
    woodc5
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    When my dad died a couple years ago, I remember my best friend stayed with me the night he passed and for 2 nights after. It really meant a lot, and it helped having someone there to talk to about anything, not just him. When you're alone is when you have the most time to reflect on negative thoughts and feelings.

  10. #10
    Nixee
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    My father died just this last weekend, and I'm right now in that raw grieving process myself.

    To tell you what it feels like first hand - it rocks back and forth between deep sadness, and numbness - the need to reach for almost-normalcy. Between calm, LOW energy (almost NO energy) to complete erratic restless energy.

    When I go to leave the house and run an errand, thinking to myself that I feel pretty ok.... I may be driving slower, or more distracted... just generally run down. I actually got sick yesterday morning (or was that the day before?) and had to just lie down and sleep for several hours. My body is tired even though my brain doesn't seem to know it. I have a hard time listening to people talking for long periods of time.... my mind tends to wander a bit...

    For me what this means is - it helps most to have friends.... people who are strong enough and willing enough to come to me and show their support. It means the world. Saying, "I'm so sorry for your loss" is wonderful to hear, and of course I am grateful for it... yet the people who go above and beyond are the saints to me right now.

    They listen to the grisly last days of my father's illness without fear.

    They listen to happy stories about my dad's last year... or just my life with dad - and often contribute their own stories of him for a smile or laugh.

    They cook, they clean, they run errands.

    They call regularly.

    They send eloquent and thoughtful letters.

    They offer help with the memorial (well... relevant in my case at least as we haven't had the service yet)

    They aren't afraid to be there.... in any way or any capacity needed. They don't let the sadness scare them away - because this is something that we ALL deal with at some point.

    Generally speaking, I would say space and time alone is not something that the deeply grieving person wants right away....though they may need it in time. Love and support comes first.

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