Help a Friend and Know the Stages of Grief

Edited by Leomar Umpad, Innocent Yogo, Lynn, Monika and 2 others

Grieving for any loss is normal especially if it is due to a beloved one's death. People have different ways of grieving. Others are too oblivious of their feelings while others tend to keep it inside them. Nonetheless, a good friend who listens and understands can really be a big help on times of grief. However, as much as how clean your intentions are, you may get things worse for the bereaved if you have no idea what kind process the person has been going through. There have been many a story about heartaches, quarrels and misunderstanding when the intention of one party was to comfort the other one. We have listed below the things that one should note in order to properly console a grieving friend.

The Five Stages of Grief

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Even with all the cleanest intentions in the world, you may mess up with helping out your grieving friend if you do not know of these five stages of grief. Different people take different time to cope up with each stage. Others may also skip some stage. Others may not also get the stages in order. However understanding how each stage is all about can help you handle your friend's reactions and feelings. The stages are:

  1. 1
    Denial
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    This is the stage where one refuses to accept the cause of grief. Some people even try to act normal as if nothing has happened. In this stage, your friend needs your understanding and honesty. Your friend does not accept the facts. The fact that his cat died, or his girlfriend broke up with him, or a family died. You should also know how to approach your friend in this stage. Is he the type who wants the cold hard truth to be slapped right in his face? Then tell him the facts softly and straight. Is he the one who keeps things to himself and doesn't want people to know how he feels. Then stay with him silently. Do not talk about the sad news, offer any kind of physical help, do not try to console or do any emotional help.
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  2. 2
    Anger
    .
    This is the stage where one gets mad at some things and puts the blame on those things. This anger may be projected to himself, to other people or things. This is the blaming stage. This is the most active stage. Your friend may get physical on this stage. Your friend needs all your understanding and patience in this stage. Do not keep things worse by getting angry at him too. What you can do in this stage is to keep on open mind so as not to get emotionally offended by his acts and words ; and to keep a watchful eye to keep your friend from possible dangers and wrong decisions during this potentially dangerous stage.
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  3. 3
    Bargaining
    .
    This is the stage where one tends to offer exchanges so as to reverse the situation. For a friend grieving for a his cat's death, he may bargain to God and ask Him to bring his cat back to life promising that he won't ever gamble again. For a friend who had just been dumped by his girlfriend, this is the stage where he calls her promising that he stops smoking if the girl gets back to her. This also means that your friend has already recognized the fact the cause of his grief is real. The only thing you can do for now is to give a good ear. Let him bargain all he want. Listen to all his deals. Do not disagree with him nor give any false hopes. Just be a friend and make him understand that you are there for him.
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  4. 4
    Depression
    .
    This is the stage where one gets frustrated. When bargaining does not work, this is the stage where your friend hurts the most. His cat has died, and he cannot do anything to bring the animal back to life. His girlfriend broke up with him and an offer to quit from smoking does not sound enough for her. This is the emotional part. This is also the part where you listen and at the same time give good advice to your friend. Make sure to pick the right words depending on the situation and your friends preferences. This is also the right time to let your friend know that you still care. Since this is close to the last stage, some people who have been comforting him have already continued with their normal lives and may have less to no time with your friend. Let him know that you are still there for him by giving him a visit or call.
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  5. 5
    Acceptance
    .
    This is the stage where one has recognized the truth and has accepted it. This is where he realized that the cause of the grief was real, that he cannot do anything about it, that he has learned from it, and that he needs to move on with his normal life. This is the time where your friend puts the past behind him bringing the memories and learnings from it, and continue living. This is the time where he will thank you for the efforts you have done.
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Remember

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  • Do not put any pressure to your friend to get past a stage. You cannot compare nor assume that similar situations should have the same period of recovery. You may have stayed in the denial stage for 2 hours when your cat died, while your friend may stay in denial for a week. Accept it. Different people have different recovery period.
  • Do not prevent them from crying. Do not tell him that he is strong and that he can overcome it. Let him be hurt without resistance and restraint. Pain is normal.
  • During the early stages, you can let other people console your friend. These are the times when many people are still trying to help him. Give them the time to help but make sure that you let your friend feel you are there for him.
  • Other people should move on with their lives after a few days or a week. This is normal for people. Some may forget to make follow-ups due to the pressures of daily life. Do not fall for this. Be the helping hand to your friend when everyone seems to have left.
  • Be sure to give physical help. Consoling does not necessarily appeal to the emotions. This can also be done through helping with the house chores when your friend cannot do it, taking his pet dog to the vet when he is busy with some other things. The little things help.
  • Do not expect an act of gratitude. You are helping your friend. You are not asking for his "Thank you". Do not get offended when your friend does not show gratitude for your acts of help. Helping alone should give you the sense of fulfillment.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Relationships

Recent edits by: Eng, Monika, Lynn

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