It can be very difficult knowing what to say and to be around someone who has experienced the death of someone close. Adults find it difficult too, so don’t feel bad about this.
You can’t make things better but you can give your friend support just by being there and saying I’m so sorry about your Mum. You won’t make it worse for your friend by mentioning what has happened.
When a friend has been bereaved, you may be wondering what to do to help them. Some people worry that they might make things worse. Here’s some things that people who’ve had someone important die say helped them:
- Realising you can’t make anything worse – the worst has already happened.
- Acknowledging that something huge has happened – even saying ‘I’m sorry about your mum’ or ‘how are you doing?’ will make a difference.
- Understanding that the person who has been bereaved might not be able to talk or share how they are feeling – but don’t stop asking.
- Talking about the person who died. If you knew them too, share some thoughts (‘I remember that time your Dad left your football kit on the roof of the car’).
- Not worrying if your friend gets upset – it’s very reasonable that they do.
- Keep involving them in activities and plans – even if they say no because they just can’t face seeing other people or going out. Keep asking because one day they’ll say yes and be so grateful that you kept them in the loop.
- Standing up for your friend if others make remarks (they’re no fun anymore).
- Reminding your friend to look after themselves: to get enough sleep, to try to relax, to eat, to listen to music.
- Avoiding trying to cheer them up – just let them feel what they are feeling for now. But if they are up for some fun, don’t be surprised they need some time off – it doesn’t mean they are ‘over it’.
- Making a note of important dates (such as the day the person died or their birthday) so you can mention it or text a ‘thinking of you’ message.
- Talking to them about getting some extra support if you are worried about them; for example, from their folks or from a teacher.