“Let me know if I can do anything to help.”
“I’m here for you.”
“Just let me know what you need.”
In the Before, before Adrian died, I think I used to say these kinds of things too. These things that sound supportive, without being intrusive.
Related: Resources for Friends and Family Supporting Loved Ones after the Loss of a Child
I had no idea until I heard them coming from other people that they actually feel so empty.
Because when the bereaved are deep in their grief, they often don’t know what they need.
“Do I still eat?”
The above is a genuine question I asked myself in those early days. Shock and grief are both so overwhelming that things like food became trivialities.
I know the open offer of help is meant to be helpful, and I promise you, it’s appreciated!
But please also consider offering specific things:
- I’d like to bring you dinner this evening. Is that okay?
- Would you be interested in a walk in the park tomorrow morning?
- I’m going to Target later today. Would you like to come with me?
I can tell you from experience, these concrete offers are so much more easily digested and understandable for those deep in grief. And even if they don’t take you up on these specific things, the fact that you offered something of this nature lets them know they can ask you for the things they do need, when they are ready.
Related: Miranda’s Story: The First Days After Adrian’s Death
A simple change in phrasing makes such a difference.
Notes for the Support Team – Words Matter:
Original statement: Let me know if I can do anything for you.
Rewritten: Can I bring you dinner this evening? Can I help you with the laundry? I’m going to the store this evening; can I bring you anything?
Notes for the Support Team; Words Matter