Supporting a man whose wife has died may seem incredibly difficult and intimidating. You likely feel at a complete loss to understand the pain he is going through, as well as totally incapable of making him feel better at all. However, when you understand that your job is not to take the pain away, but to be there for your friend whenever he needs you, you will relax and recognize that there are several important things you can do to support your friend whose wife died.
Visit him and explain what you are there for. Give him a few days to mourn alone, then visit. Explain that you are going to be there for him through this difficult time, and that he can talk to you about anything and call you whenever he needs. Ask him if he needs anything from you, and respect him if he says he needs space.
Do errands he cannot find it in himself to do. He may also need help around the house, keeping it clean and staying on top of bills and other payments. You may volunteer to go to the grocery store for him and bring back a week's supply of food. You can also do anything else he needs you to do but does not have the emotional strength for. After a while, you might want to ask him if he would like to go with you on some of these trips.
Encourage him to eat and rest. It is very likely that your friend is finding it difficult to continue on with normal day-to-day activities, even ones as simple as eating and going to bed. Encourage him to keep up with a regular schedule, such as going to bed at the same hour every day and eating at least a little bit at every meal. You may also make sure he is eating a nutritious diet.
Discuss the happy times when he is ready. After a few weeks have passed, ask your friend if he wants to talk about the past with you. Telling someone about his sadness or discussing the wonderful times in his relationship may actually help alleviate his pain. Be careful as you talk to him; try to listen more than speak. Furthermore, if he wants to stop talking at any time, do not protest.
Do not give up on your friend. Whatever happens, do not give up on your grieving friend. Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult, trying experiences in life. Be realistic about his recovery time; it will be a matter of weeks, or even months, until he is better. He will not be completely happy or restored for a long time, if ever.
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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.
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