Death is the only certain thing in this life. It’s permanent. Unlike life. Yet the death of a loved person is never easy. It’s a fit of anger, an unbridgeable sadness.
The moment when you feel like a part of you is being taken away. You want to catch it, stop it from fading away; you reach with your hand, but there is nothing there. Just air.
Everyone has a different grieving process and how you went through something does not mean it will apply to your friend or relative. Only the person going through that loss knows how it’s like.
So what can you say to someone who’s lost a parent? What can you do?
Acknowledge the emotion. When someone is going through the loss of a parent, you cannot dismiss that pain, pretend it’s not there. Changing that person’s emotions is not the right angle either. You can say something like:
It’s perfectly fine not to be fine right now. You need time.
I cannot imagine what you must be going through, but know that I am here to listen.
This is one of the hardest things in life. I am so sorry you have to go through it.
He/She is at a much better place and watching you from above. He/She will never leave you. Not really. I know it.
Saying my condolences is always appropriate, but if the person going through the loss is very close to you, you might want to show a little care and effort. You can mention the notion of heaven only if the person believes in a higher power, otherwise, they may get angry or upset, so make sure you don’t say something like This was God’s plan if the person is not religious for it may upset them.
Remind the person you are there for them. Tell them that they can call you at any time. Tell them you are there to support them, to lend an ear, to make them company when they feel lonely, and whatever else they need. It’s what the person would love to hear. Knowing they have someone beside them will have a calming effect. Grief eats away your soul, so you need a distraction, you need someone stronger at the moment – someone you can lean on.
I am one phone call away or I can stay with you for the week are all good things to say. Your friend or relative may refuse if they prefer to grieve alone, but they’ll know you are a loyal friend.
Share your favorite memory of their parent. Something happy. Something funny. Show that their parent still leaves. Among the memories, among the words, among the pictures. This would mean the world to the person going through the loss.
There is never an exact formula. We are talking about emotions, of course, there is no exact answer to how you should treat the loss of a parent, but no matter what, your care and understanding, your investment will not be unnoticed. And maybe, as time goes by, your loved one, your dear friend or family member, will heal. Not stop grieving, but heal enough to keep going.