There were tears in her eyes as she looked at me and said, “I don’t know if I am doing the right thing. The truth is I don’t know what to do or what to say. So I just go there. I do laundry or take the kids. Sometimes, I feel so useless as I just sit there next to her knowing that she is in so much pain.” My hand reached and I gently squeezed the woman’s shoulder. I wanted my slightest form of human touch to acknowledge the weight of emotion on her face.
I took a breath and said, “ By not telling her what to do or how to grieve, you are doing everything she needs. You are allowing your friend to talk about her pain. You are relieving her of daily chores and difficult tasks so that she doesn’t need to think about those in the midst of her grief. One day she will look back and remember how much you were there. “
I shared. After the funeral the line of people offering support will disappear. It is then that she will need you most. She will need to know you will not judge her for how long it takes to move forward. She will still need help with the simple things and everyday tasks. She will need you to keep listening as she says his name, tells his stories and cries from heartache. She will need you to keep calling and inviting her to join in, no matter how many times she has said no. She will need the call on the tough days like anniversaries and holidays. She will need someone to hold her hand while she watches her children reach milestones that he is not there to see. She will need you to just listen in silence without offering answers. She will need everyone to be okay saying his name out loud. She will need forgiveness for the moments her tolerance is less or her words not carefully chosen. Do not walk away because you think too much time has gone by and she should be recovering faster. She will need patience and understanding.
That is how you can be a good friend.