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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Helping a Friend through Tragedy

Page address: https://www.mnsu.edu/counseling/helpingafriend.html

                              SUPPORTING A FRIEND FOLLOWING A DEATH

 

Make yourself available

Grief is a normal and natural response to loss.  Making yourself available to a friend who is grieving can be one of the best things you can do.  If your friend wants to talk about the death, that is okay.  If your friend does not want to talk about it, that is also fine.  Also, be sensitive to whether your friend wants companionship at any given time since some people want time alone after a death.  Sometimes a good time to contact a friend is several days after the funeral when friends and family have left.

 

If you cannot to be available - make contact in some way.  You could make a phone call, send flowers, send cards with short notes, or keep in touch with e-mails.  You could give your friend a gift certificate for a meal or movie.

 

Listen

It is not as much about saying the “right” or “wrong” thing, but rather more about just listening to your friend if they choose to share their feelings and thoughts. 

 

Be patient and kind

Everyone grieves differently, and grief does not have a time table.  Your friend may have many different thoughts and feelings at different times, and some days will be better than other days.  Please do not take any mood swings your friend may have personally.  

 

Invite your friend to do things with you

Invite your friend to attend activities and events with you as you have always done.  Be accepting of whether or not your friend wants to attend. 

 

Give your friend time

Getting back on track after a death can take some time.  It is not realistic to expect that your friend will be totally back to themselves quickly.  Please do not rush your friend.  Give your friend time to adjust to life without the person who died.

 

Accept that you may feel awkward

You may not always know what to say so it may feel awkward at times.  If this is the case, it is okay to say something like the following to your friend:  “I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you.”  Keep in mind that your friend is still your friend so treat your friend the same way you always have. 

 

Take care of yourself

You will not be of help to your friend for long if you do not take care of yourself.  Remember to eat nutritiously, get regular sleep, drink plenty of fluids, exercise, attend your classes, keep up with your coursework, and do things that you enjoy.

 

Offer other options for support

If you feel that your friend needs additional support and help, suggest other options such as counseling and grief groups.

 

 

If you are in need of support, you can talk with friends, family, and/or clergy. 

 

Campus Resources for Students:

Counseling Center: 507-389-1455

Student Health Services: 507-389-6276

Campus Ministry: 507-625-6779