If your friend's grief is so severe that she is lashing out at you, you most likely feel at a loss about what to do in order to make her feel better. You do not want to make things worse by giving unwarranted advice, but you also feel the need to offer your support without being overbearing. Grief is a reaction to a loss that can lead to a range of feelings and behaviors, and each person handles it differently. Since lashing out is your friend's own way of dealing with her grief, you may deal with it by asking how you can help her, giving her the time she needs, honoring her loved one and encouraging her emotions.
Ask How You Can Help
One helpful way to deal with your friend grieving and lashing out is to ask how you can assist him. Since he lashed out, he most likely is dealing with stress on top of his sadness that is causing him to act out in anger, instead of being able to focus on his grief and recovery process. Kate Evans, a licensed professional counselor in Illinois, reports on the "PsychCentral" website that people are all different and the most effective way to support your friend is to ask what you can do for him. Offer your support in any way you can, and remind him that you will be there if he thinks of something he needs. This will allow you to deal with his grief and anger in a helpful way.
Give Her Time
Your friend may feel like others are expecting her to recover quickly or "get over" the loss of her loved one, which is causing her to lash out because she does not know how to deal with these unrealistic expectations of recovery. Instead, let her know that grieving is an individual process that should not be bound by a specific timetable. According to GoodTherapy.org, grief may continue anywhere from two weeks to two years and that moments of sadness will still occur after recovery. Once your friend does not feel pressured to hurry up and move on, she will relax and feel able to experience and deal with her sadness.
Honor Loved One
Making sure to honor your friend's loved one in a unique way will show him that you recognize the pain he is going through and want to honor the special person he lost. One way to honor a loved one is through service to others or by getting involved in an activity that she enjoyed. Perhaps the person your friend lost was passionate about animals. In that case, you may offer to volunteer with your friend at the Humane Society in order to honor her passion.
Encourage Natural Emotions
Encourage what your friend is feeling without telling her she must be strong. Evans advises against praise, as this may make your friend feel that she is not allowed to be human and, instead, must be strong throughout her pain. Suggest to her that true strength is found in letting her emotions out and that it is normal and advisable to allow herself to be vulnerable during this difficult time. This will show your friend that whatever she is feeling is alright and that even though she lashed out, she should not be made to feel guilty or ashamed about it.
Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.