When someone you know is dealing with the loss a loved one, there is always a confusion that sets in. What do you do first? Do you send a text? Whatsapp or SMS? Do you call immediately you hear about it or wait for a couple of days? When do you visit them? Do you take anything with you? What do you even take? So many decisions. I don’t think this is a situation a lot of people claim to have “relevant” experience in. You just sorta go with the flow.
I definitely don’t have the experience, I recently lost my adopted dad and writing is how I deal with my emotions. So, in this guide, I will attempt to share the lipglosmaffia-esque way of helping your friend deal with grief. One day, I’ll explain what Lipglossmaffia is all about, today isn’t that day. Just take whatever I’m giving you.
1- Send a message
It doesn’t matter if it’s an SMS, Whatsapp or iMessage, just send a message as soon as you know that their loved one has passed. The longer you delay, the longer they have to deal with sad messages flooding their phone. And if you only heard 1 year after the loss of their loved one, then maybe y’all are not that close and you should just zip it until they tell you.
2- Keep it short and simple
“I’m so sorry for your loss, may their soul rest in peace.” Don’t be tempted to add shit like, “God knows best,” nobody wants to hear/read this at this point. Short and simple. And for the love of all that is good, don’t ask why, how, or when the person passed. If they want to offer this information to you, let them do it in their own time.
3- Keep phone calls super-short
When you do call, don’t linger on the phone. Remember the message from the first tip? Yeah, just add, “I’m here anytime you need to talk” or “If you need anything, let me know.” If the person is crying when you call, don’t shhh them, or tell them “it’s okay”(because it’s not), take your cue from them. Your role at that point is to support. And honestly, there is nothing you can say that can make them feel better.
4- If you can, you should visit
This one is a bit tricky. As Africans, it’s obligatory to visit but I’m a modern African and I don’t like the outdated rules. So, here’s my suggestion, if you knew/interacted with the recently deceased person, you should definitely visit, if you didn’t, ask your friend if it’s okay for you to visit. You should ask in both cases but there is a higher possibility your friend wants you to come over if you knew the person too. Something about shared experiences.
5- Always take something when you visit
I feel like this is a no-brainer. Make sure you take gifts with you. I’ll suggest ice-cream, alcohol of their choice, fruit juices, proper meals, pizza, doughnuts, cupcakes, etc. Your friend will forget to eat and the best way to convince them to do that is coming with a solution.
Dear reader, that’s all I have to offer. Also, take your cues from your friends. You’d know when they need a distraction or a quiet and solid presence beside them. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
Your instinct may be to avoid someone who is experiencing loss because you fear you’ll say the wrong thing. But loss can be very isolating, and if you stay away, you will compound the loss and the pain.Robbie Miller Kaplan, How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say
I hope this guide helps, also if you have any other tip on helping a friend who is dealing with the loss of a loved one, please share with me in the comments.