Watching your friend after the loss of a grandmother can be a painful experience. You may struggle with finding the right words to express your sympathy after such a loss, or you may worry about how your friend will respond to your condolences. Simply telling your friend that you're there for her and asking her what you can do during this trying time are ways to help console her.
What to Say
Whether you express your condolences by email, in a note or in person, keeping them brief and clearly expressing your sorrow for your friend's loss are both high priorities, according to the Emily Post Institute. To clearly acknowledge the situation, simply say, "I'm sorry about your grandma's death." You can also reassure your friend that you care about her and that you are willing to help -- in any way that you can. This lets her know that she can depend on you. You might also share with her any particularly warm or funny stories that you remember about her grandmother, or just tell your friend that you would love to know more about her grandmother when she feels ready to talk.
Share Your Grieving Experience
You shouldn't say that you understand how your friend is feeling. Everyone grieves differently, so you really don't know how your friend is feeling. Instead, tell her that whatever she is feeling is simply OK. If you’ve gone through a similar loss, you can share it , but only if you feel it's appropriate, explains HelpGuide.org. Don't compare your grief to hers. Just simply explain how you felt when you lost someone close to you.
What to Avoid
When an older person dies, it can be tempting to put a positive spin on the situation, like mentioning that at least your friend's grandmother lived a long life. In reality, comments like that can undermine your friend's grief, according to the Emily Post Institute. You should also avoid making comments about how you could not handle losing your grandmother or telling your friend that he will soon move on. Don't make any claims as to how long he will grieve, since grief is a personal matter.
If you would like to do something more for your friend, like helping her pen a eulogy in honor of her grandmother, let her know that you are willing, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Taking your friend out for dinner or preparing her favorite dessert can bring some measure of comfort during an emotionally trying time. If she insists that she does not need help, respect her wishes and tell her that she can ask you for whatever she needs if she changes her mind.
While some may appear to get back into their lives quickly after a death, your friend may struggle with his grief months or even years after the funeral and memorial. Showing that you are willing to talk about your friend's grandmother or offering to celebrate his grandmother's birthday or other holidays that bring up memories of his grandmother may help your friend feel less isolated in his grief, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If your friend's grief seems to grow worse over time, you can also encourage him to see a grief counselor for help.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Helping Others Cope with Grief
- Emily Post Institute: Sympathy Notes and Letters
- Emily Post Institute: After the Funeral
- Emily Post Institute: Bereavement Questions and Answers
- Everplans: How to Offer Condolences
- Everplans: How to Express Sympathy: What to Say and What Not to Say
- HelpGuide.org: Supporting a Grieving Person
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