What to Do When Friends Are Not There in Times of Grieving

Encountering grief can be a difficult challenge, particularly if we’re doing it all on our own. Friends usually rally to our aid when we endure difficult times in our lives. So it can come as quite a shock when you realize your friends aren’t showing up when you need them the most. This may feel like a double loss as you sift through the emotions of losing a loved one. Why friends disappear in these moments varies. They may not realize what you’re going through, or they feel lost in knowing how to help, or they simply don’t feel comfortable interacting with your grief. Whatever the reason may be, Ecorial has six tips for you when friends are not there in times of grieving.

Reach Out

As you come to terms with the loss of your loved one, you also are trying to reconcile the noticeable absence of your friends. Since they aren’t checking in, reaching out will fall to you. Let them know you’ve been experiencing a difficult time with losing a loved one. Since grief differs for each loss, your friends may not fully grasp what it’s like for you. Give them the opportunity to right the ship and offer their support. Reaching out to your absent friends may have quite an impact on them. Entrusting them with your vulnerability can move a friend to do all they can to support you.

Tell Them How They Can Help

Your friends may be at a loss for how they can best support you. As your grief process is a new experience for you, it’s equally unfamiliar territory for them as well. It’s helpful to be specific with the help you need. This will give them clear direction in aiding you. You may have to play to their strengths. One friend may be great at listening, while another may be more suited to managing practical tasks. There are several ways friends can offer support. No request is too small, and all can be of great value to you.

Educate Them

Your friends may have simply never encountered grief in their lives yet. In our Western culture, dealing with grief is usually perceived as a private experience. One that people are expected to suppress and ignore or find a way to put behind them quickly. All the elements that factor into losing a loved one aren’t fully appreciated by those unfamiliar with grief. For instance, coordinating practical matters, such as arranging a memorial service or closing an estate while under extreme emotional distress, is a very unique and complex situation to manage. Educating your friends on these challenges may spur them to action.

Avoid Judgement

People are complex creatures. It can be tough to understand why our friends make certain decisions. Just as they may be unfamiliar with grief, consider that you may not have the full picture of what is going on in your friends’ lives. Each of us goes through our own unique set of problems in life. You may need to give your friends a little bit of wiggle room in this way. Try to avoid judging them. Hopefully, in time they will return to your life in a more meaningful way. If not, then maybe it’s for the best.

Let Go

Many things in this life are out of our control. The ebb and flow of relationships are no exception.
As painful as it is to deal with the death of a loved one, experiencing a dissolving friendship can feel very much like another loss. We can’t control people’s actions. If they simply can’t be bothered to show up, then it’s time to consider letting them go. Maybe the friendship has run its course. At this point, you can wish them well with their life and move on. It’s best to focus your attention on the friends that truly want to be there for you.

Set Boundaries

You’ve been going through an extremely trying and difficult experience. The energy burn emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically has, no doubt, been significant. Diverting more energy into putting up with poor behavior is quite taxing. Consider how your friends have treated you, and create boundaries for yourself. You can still say no with love. Decide what you are willing to put up with and what is simply unacceptable for you. Setting boundaries is a very healthy form of self-care. Forging bonds with friends who do care is much more valuable than chasing after half-hearted friendships.

Processing the loss of your loved one may have been one of the most significant milestones of your life. Experiences with grief provide a looking glass into the true value of friendships. Not having friends there to acknowledge your experience can be extremely hurtful. Hopefully, the friends that matter will come around and learn to support you in many more ways in life moving forward.

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