Grievers Probably Won't Reach Out To You

As I travel this grief path I am seeing that many people don't know what to do or say to grievers. There can be awkwardness, even avoidance from people.

I remember when a friend’s son died and Jack and I were on the way to the visitation, husband Jack asked me what he could say to our friends. He didn’t know what to say and he knew there was really nothing he could do for them. I suggested he say just that, “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry.”

There seem to be so many cliches that offer condolences. “I’m sorry for your loss,” “He is at peace now,” “He is with God,” I found no comfort there.

What I’ve learned in my grief is that words are just words. It is the intent of offering support, concern, affection that rides behind the words that matters. There was my comfort - people taking time to touch me.

Writing a note says more than the words in the note. It says I thought enough about you to take the time to send this correspondence. I have a friend that simply sent me a picture text each day for more than a month. I actually looked forward to those pictures - flowers, pets, the universe. Those texts said without words “I’m thinking of you.”

When do you call and say “can I come over with McDonald’s” or “let’s go to lunch”? How soon is too soon? I suppose that depends on the closeness of the relationship. A very close friend, anytime; a social friend, perhaps in a few weeks - a “get out of the house, I’m here if you need anything” kind of lunch.

I’ve noticed people are hesitant to talk about the person that died or use their name. By all means talk about our special person. Talk about “remember when,” about how they touched your life, and how much you cared about them.

Another thing to be aware of is we, grievers, will probably not reach out to you. We will not say “I need to talk with someone” or “I’m lonely and need a friend today.” We may even say “I can’t today.” But don’t give up on us. Keep reaching out. Keep being there.

These are just a few of my thoughts as I travel this new road of grief. I figure if I’m having these thoughts then so are others. Again, just something to think about. 

Something More… about Grievers Probably Won't Reach Out To You

If you have a grieving friend, I suggest you look into gifting your friend a year's subscription of HelpTexts. They will be sent texts each week that will be supportive and tender from experts in the field. If that interests you, here is a discounted link: HelpTexts.

I also have a booklet that provides gentle guidance through the normal stages of grief and offers suggestions for moving forward into a meaningful life. Many use the booklet as a condolence card. It costs less than a greeting card and provides support to the griever.

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Margaret D

I love the booklet, “My Friend, I Care” and love the title. I keep them on hand. I always receive good feed back on them.
BK Books replied:
Hi Margaret, I wrote My Friend, I Care with the idea it would be used as a sympathy card. Sounds like that is what you are doing. Blessings! Barbara


I ran into a casual friend who gave me a big hug and said “I didn’t know what to say, so I’ve been avoiding you. I was going to call you tomorrow.”
Just thinking about that feels like a gut punch.
And PLEASE say his name. You’re not going to be reminding me that he died. I remember by myself every living moment.
BK Books replied:
Hi Lois, I know, hugs often mean more than any words can say. Blessings! Barbra

Kristi van Greunen

A book that I know has helped many in grief is “Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief” by Martha Hickman. That book helped me greatly as it did many I met in my grief support groups.
BK Books replied:
Hi Kristi, thanks for sharing your helpful book. Blessings! Barbara


Dearest Barbara, thank you for your continual love and care for us all as you tread your own path of sadness. Reading your message this morning reached out to me in my own loss of my beloved Honey cat. I realise how much I took refuge and comfort from life in her love and am now working to seek that refuge within instead of ‘out there’. Life and loss go together and it’s so good to share our journeys together. Sending so much love for you and gratitude for your loving kindness to humanity xx
BK Books replied:
Hi Joanna, our animals (mine is a cat too) can bring us great comfort. Just like with people, it isn’t words but presence (and purrs) that we often find comfort. Blessings to you. Barbara

Betty Jane Foglio, BSN, RN

Dear Barbara,
These dialogues are really special to read and understand. I feel for the people who cannot acknowledge loss. It’s a precious and sensitive time. Truly, not much has to be said. During my work in an Inpatient Unit, I think one of the best
offerings I had was to give the family member a hug. I will never forget a young woman with Breast Cancer whose Dad was standing next to me after her passing. I just gave him a big hug which helped him to cry. It was a precious moment. Such loss.
I send you hugs now although I am many miles away.
With Warmth and Compassion,

BK Books replied:
Hi B.J. thank you for sharing how you brought comfort with a simple hug. I wish more medical professionals could find the same compassion. Blessings to you in the work you are doing. Barbara

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