Today is ‘Make a Friend Day’ – a chance to meet someone new and make a new friendship. Young people tell us all the time how powerful it is to meet somebody that has gone through the same thing. At our group events, we see bereaved young people bonding and forging friendships that last a lifetime.
So on Make a Friend Day, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the friends that are there for young people after somebody close to them has died.
If you’re reading this because someone close to you has been bereaved, thank you for taking the time to explore ways to help them.
There’s no right or wrong way – and we don’t call ourselves experts – because everybody grieves differently.
But there are three really simply things you can do to help a friend that is grieving.
Curiosity could be asking your friend how they are. It’s all about having an awareness of them feeling different things each time you ask them.
It’s about taking the time to put their feelings at the top of your priority list and understanding what they might be going through.
That leads us onto openness and understanding that it’s okay for them to cry. It’s also okay for them not to cry. Also, it’s okay for you to say that you don’t know what to tell them how to help them.
Sometimes we can panic about what to say; that your friend has lost someone close to them and you don’t know what to say.
But actually your friend isn’t expecting you to know the perfect thing to say and they’re not expecting you to fix it, they’ve just come to you because you’re already a good friend. It’s okay to say to them that you don’t know what to say.
You should be open to whether they want a hug or not, and ask them is it okay for me in the future to ask you how you are?
The last one is support – which also provides some reassurance as well, keeping things a bit normal. You don’t need to change or be a different friend to what you already are because they feel comfortable coming to talk to you.
But perhaps in that support, you can offer them some normality and routine that they are used to. So you might have lots of jokes together and it’s okay to keep them going because even though they are really sad some days or angry some days, there will be days when they still want to laugh and smile and that’s a really important thing you can give them as a friend.
The important thing is that you don’t have to change. You’re already a good friend because they’ve come to you with this problem and their emotions. So keep being who you are and be open to hope they might be feeling each day.