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What Do I Do?

I just received this text today and thought that my answer would make a good blog.

“I’m going to see my friend whose husband recently passed away.  Any advice?”

Sometimes, when asked this question, I start with the “what not to do” list so that’s where I’m going to start here as well. This advice is not at all geared towards anyone who helped me in my darkest days because I was very blessed and taken-care of in this matter.

Of course, too, all of my answers differ on how close your friend is and how strong your friendship was before this moment in time but I’ll speak in general terms.

  1. Do not feel like you have to take on a new role of counselor for your friend.  Especially, when it’s in the early days, no one can grow or benefit from pithy cliches or unwarranted advice.

  2. Do not compare any losses that you have experienced to the one she is currently dealing with. 

  3. Do not feel like you have to talk a lot or carry the conversation.

  4. Do not stay long unless she seems to want you to.  

  5. Don’t say, “Let me know what you need” or “We are here, you just say the word.”  The sentiment and good thoughts are there, but it adds to the mental load that she already has.  This mental load and the already-existing list of things to do is heavy and overwhelming.

  6. Don’t segue out of the time with her if you’re uncomfortable.  The goal of the whole interaction is to bless and encourage her.  

Now, for the “what to do” list.

  1. Read the room.  If she wants to hug you, hug.  If she lets you in and doesn’t initiate a hug, don’t push yourself onto her.  If she cries, listen and be attentive.  Let her be the guide as to how the visit goes.

  2. If she mentions something that’s overwhelming or that she could use your help with, take that request very seriously.  Set up a time to accomplish that within the week if possible and don’t take her asking for or accepting your help lightly.  

  3. Like I’ve mentioned before, come with a list of things that you could offer and want to offer, to help out.

  4. It’s absolutely okay to not say something that you’ll relive in your mind the rest of the day. It’s fine to say, “I don’t know what to say right now” or “my heart is sad.” 

  5. Deal with your emotions about the husband’s death after taking care of her.  Run everything through the filter of “will this be helpful?”

  6. Give yourself grace if you don’t do things just right.  No one knows what to do in these scenarios unless you’ve gone through it before.  And even if you have, you haven’t experienced this moment before.  





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