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Give InKind is honored to feature Megan F. Malcolm.
Your friend just lost a parent. Their life just irrevocably changed.
Being the incredible friend that you are, you want to help.
The problem – what can you do?
1) A picture is worth a thousand words.
Show up with a photo album or frame. Help your friend go through their family pictures and pick out favorites. Ask questions about the photos as you organize them and listen to the stories about each one.
Offer to make copies of special pictures and mail them to family/friends. Create a memory wall if there is open wall space. Give them a picture locket to hold a cherished picture.
Bonus points: Get on friend’s Instagram/Facebook, print photos off, and show up with them in hand.
2) Schedule an activity to do together.
You know your friend best. What activities do they enjoy? Chances are, they are no longer doing them.
When it’s a struggle to shower once a week or even get out of bed, the energy it takes to accomplish an actual activity is astronomical. Be the person who helps them re-engage.
Is your friend a yogi? Find a class in his/her neighborhood and go get your downward dog on. A swimmer? Start researching lap swim schedules at the local rec center.
3) Check-in on them.
Don’t assume that your friend is okay. The grieving process doesn’t end in the weeks or months following the funeral. Find opportunities to talk with your friend, and listen to what s/he has to say.
Do you live in the same city? Meet them for coffee before work. Don’t live close by? Give them a quick call when you’re driving home from work. Friend isn’t answering their phone? Leave a voice message or send them a text.
Make sure your friend knows that you’re thinking about them and are available when they need you, whenever they might be ready.
4) Sleepovers – not just for kids.
Organize a sleepover or friends’ retreat. But be sure to ask before you do this though – don’t just assume your friend is ready. Talk to your friend, and see what s/he is comfortable with and ask whom they would like you to invite.
Talk, listen, cry, hug, drink wine, eat way too much, cry some more, and watch a silly movie. If there are friends/family who aren’t local, remember to Skype or FaceTime them in so that they can be there too.
Have a night or weekend that is solely about your friend, and surround them with all the love and support you can provide.
5) Support your local support group.
Grieving is not easy. It is very, very hard, and your friend might need more help than you can provide.
Talk to your friend about joining a local support group. Do some research into what local groups are around and which one might be the best fit for your friend. Offer to drive them to the meeting and/or attend with them.