What to do or say...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 24, 2007 1:57 PM GMT
    My best friend's both parents have just been killed in a car crash, he's only 20 y/o and i dunno what to say to comfort him anymore... would anyone have an idea?
    Thanks
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    Oct 24, 2007 3:09 PM GMT
    Just being there and saying nothing at all is good. Just let him either talk or cry and if he just wants to stare off in to space is good. The fact that you are there right now is enough. I lost both of my parents when I was six. So I know what he's going through. One second at a time. Please do not say I know what you are going through, because unless you have lost both of your parents then you don't.

    It is totally not the same as loosing a BF or Lover.

    My prayers to you and your friend.icon_cry.gif
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    Oct 24, 2007 3:52 PM GMT
    Sorry to hear about your friend and his family. I agree with Phoenix43, just be there for him.

    Sometimes it also helps to make sure his basic necessities are in check. Make sure he has food in the house, his job/school knows of his situation, pets, etc. Sometimes when someone suffers a loss, basic needs are neglected.

    Be sensitive to his needs. If you feel he wants to be alone, give him some space. If he needs to talk or doesn't want to be alone, stay close.

    Take care. - Jorel
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    Oct 24, 2007 4:18 PM GMT
    if he has faith in god you know how to make him feel better ...
    you can also stay with him and show him that you care about him and understand his feeling .. time will do part of the job too ...
    sorry for his lost..
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    Oct 24, 2007 5:07 PM GMT
    The best thing you can do is be a presence and say nothing.
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    Oct 24, 2007 5:09 PM GMT
    100% agree with the above.

    Just listen and let him keep it all in or talk.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Oct 24, 2007 5:33 PM GMT
    Wow what a horrible thing. How very sorry I am for him for his loss. I would say I concur with the sentiments that the others said, except make sure and be patient with him. He could be angry as well and may show that toward you. Don't be shocked, be supportive and understand it will probably take a long time.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Oct 24, 2007 7:53 PM GMT
    It depends a lot on the person. My mother died the summer after I graduated from college. While I knew there were people I could ask for help, to be honest, I'm not the sort of person who easily asks for anything I'm capable of doing myself. It helped me a lot when one of my cousins called and said he was showing up at the apartment the next day to help me move furniture, as he had a truck and I was not yet driving. It also helped when my mother's best friend just showed up with food a few times--she is not a good cook, but the mere fact that I didn't have to worry about going to the grocery store, buying something, and going through the admittedly small hassle of making dinner was helpful.

    Your friend's needs are going to come in several different arenas. Sadly, there's almost nothing that's truly universal in what you can do to help, but you have to gauge reactions. He might want someone to talk to about it, or he might want someone to talk to about anything *but* this. He might really appreciate not having to deal with some mundane parts of life (so, for instance, you might just show up and rake his leaves for him), or he might appreciate them as things to distract him from thinking about his loss. He might want to be social, or he might like to escape from the social pressures of dealing with others. I don't know him, so I can't tell you where he falls on these things.

    Fundamental advice: let him know you'll help out if he asks, make some specific offers of things to do so that he doesn't *have* to ask about some things, and if he lashes out at you based on some way you're trying to help don't take it personally. When things settle down, he's far more likely to remember that you tried to help than to remember him getting angry at you about how you did so, and that anger is really far more about what he's going through than anything you're doing. Don't expect him to go through arbitrary stages of grief as if everyone deals with things the same way, don't give him platitudes unless you know he's the sort to enjoy them (being told "everything happens for a reason", "she's in a better place", and the like can be *infuriating* to hear at times like this), and just generally follow his lead on things.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Oct 24, 2007 8:50 PM GMT
    God, what a sad thing to happen to anyone. It has brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry to here that.

    You have got very good advice from everyone and I don't think there is anything I can add. Just be a shoulder for him to cry on. I don't think he should be left alone, specially at night.

    My prayers are with him.

    Mike
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    Oct 24, 2007 10:00 PM GMT
    Losing is hard, at 25 my parents were gone. Its not easy, it hurts and its not fair. Its also life. No one can replace his parents, but he is not alone. Be there for him man. He is so young, watch him if you can.

    My thoughts go out to him.

    B
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    Oct 25, 2007 1:00 AM GMT
    Being there says a lot. Also he may need time to grieve alone. No matter if you or he believes in God, he needs to know how important he is, and that death and dying is a part of living. These things happen sometimes. No one is picking on him or hates him. And God has not forsaken him. It's a tough time for him, and it will take time to heal. Keep his faith strong.
    My prayers to him
    Joe
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    Oct 25, 2007 3:00 PM GMT
    Thoughts are with you bro. Have been through a sudden bereavement of a parent myself and I think MSUBioNerd's advice is really brilliant: absolutely spot on.

    Good for you for being there for him.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Oct 25, 2007 6:49 PM GMT
    "No matter if you or he believes in God, he needs to know how important he is, and that death and dying is a part of living. These things happen sometimes. No one is picking on him or hates him. And God has not forsaken him. It's a tough time for him, and it will take time to heal. Keep his faith strong."

    I suspect you mean well, maxx10, but I absolutely disagree with you here. If the grieving party does not believe in God, you should not bring up the subject of God at a time like this. If the person in grief brings it up, then it's thoroughly appropriate to discuss your beliefs in the matter, but leave it to them to take the lead on this issue in particular. I know that some who proselytize do so out of a sense of compassion--that they are working on saving the immortal soul of those who don't currently share their religious beliefs--but this is extremely rarely how it is felt by those on the receiving end. As one of those without faith, I resented strongly the number of people who felt the need to bring up their religious beliefs in regard to the death of my mother. Since they knew I did not share their beliefs, it came across to me that either a) they were using her death as an opportunity to try to convert me; or b) they were not considering my thoughts or feelings on the subject, and merely saying things to make themselves feel better. In the latter case, I didn't snap at any of them, as I knew they were grieving themselves, but I did resent feeling that I had to restrain myself given that my own emotions were strained substantially more than their own (death of a parent is a lot harder to deal with than death of a cousin, in general) and this was merely adding to it. In the former, I also didn't snap, but there's one particular church I hope to never feel obligated to go inside again, as I still (years later) resent the opportunism and callousness I felt in the preacher who chose to use my mother's funeral to scold people for attending a funeral but not showing up to weekly service. (My brother and I chose to hold her funeral at a Catholic church, even though we hadn't been raised Catholic, as most of her extended family is Catholic, and we thought it would be comforting to them. Therefore, of course the people present weren't showing up at his church on a weekly basis--those of us who lived there weren't Catholic, those who were Catholic came in from out of town for the service. We told him this when we arranged for the wake and the funeral, so it wasn't like it was a surprise.)

    I am in no way trying to say that your belief in God is wrong or inappropriate. All I am saying is that if the grieving party does not share your views, you bringing them up at a time like this has a strong possibility of making the matter worse for that individual. Statements that you find comforting because of your beliefs can easily be irritating to those who don't share your beliefs, and the death of parents of a young person is not a time when you want to do something which is that likely to make things worse for the bereaved.
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Oct 25, 2007 7:02 PM GMT
    be compassionate. sometimes just making a meal for the bereaving is a load of their minds. be honest. be real. be empathic. i am so sorry to hear of this grizzly news. i hope the best for everyone involved.
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    Oct 25, 2007 10:53 PM GMT
    Thank you guy's for all the ideas!
    He's not religious, and I quote; "God is a cruel kid with a magnifying glass and we are the ants"
    He did use to believe in God, but I can understand why he doesn't any more.
    Anyway, thanks for all the advice guy's, keep 'm comming...
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Oct 25, 2007 10:55 PM GMT
    Be there for him and take care of him. You don't have to say a thing, just help him get through it. Let him know you're there for whatever he needs, but also try to do stuff for him you know he won't ask for.
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    Oct 25, 2007 11:18 PM GMT
    How awful. I feel for your friend (and you).

    I also like MSUBioNerd's advice in both of his responses. Take your friend's lead and focus on simply being there for him. Don't put pressure on yourself to come up with words to make him more comfortable.

    As a side, be sure to skip the god-talk until he brings it up, and then resist reaching further than he does on this topic. I know you never brought this part up, but others have. Religion is personal and everyone's position is totally unique. Therefore it is selfish and egotistical, especially in times of grief, for a religious person to think that others will be on the same page as them spiritually. I've seen it and it's ugly and always about the person doing the preaching (except for those who's job it is to provide spiritual comfort when asked...preachers, ministers, rabbis, etc.). So, again, I wouldn't even go there until he wants to. Even if he does, the differences will need to be handled cautiously, or you risk alienating him. But enough about that.

    From personal experience I know that, in general, grief can make even the smallest routine tasks overwhelming to the point that they don't get done. For example, it's easy to skip meals when tragedy makes taking care of one's self seem so meaningless and insignificant. But this is when a person really needs their energy to mentally get through things.

    I'm not in your friend's shoes, so I cannot pretend to understand his grief. Still...there's comfort in him knowing that his basic needs will be taken care of. That's as valuable as any words you could say. Running errands, bringing/cooking meals, cleaning up his place a bit, being a work/school liaison, things like that should really help him be able to focus on himself and dealing with his loss. In that sense, you can be of great comfort.

    ...and don't forget hugs. Simple, quiet hugs. If he happens to resist, at least he knows they're available if and when he does want one. That's important too.

    Just my $0.02, even though you needed $1.00.
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    Oct 26, 2007 12:32 AM GMT
    Just be there for him... I know so many others have said that, but its important. If he needs space, let him have it but remain accessible. If he expresses his anger toward you, don't take it as a personal attack, just be understanding and let him get it all out. Make sure his basic needs are taken care of like food, notifying those that need to know if they haven't been told already, etc. Be a shoulder if he needs to cry, ears if he needs to talk, and a source of support if he can't handle it by himself. Everyone deals with loss in their own way and its important that he's allowed to do that.

    Since the topic of religion has come up, take the lead from him. I say this because when my dad died, so many people sincerely tried to make it better by talking of their Christian beliefs... which I do not share. It only made it worse... in fact, it made me feel like they were taking advantage of the situation and trying to convert me. Regardless of their intentions, which were most likely good, it didn't come across that way and was inappropriate at that time. All I really needed from anyone at that time were hugs... and those that recognized that and offered the hugs without words were the greatest comfort.