I've read plenty of articles on the topic of how best to support grieving friends, as well as what to expect as a person who is facing grief over the loss of someone. For those of you not in the loop of my personal life, I recently lost one of my best friends to a tragic and preventable accident, which occurred at the lab where she worked. You can read the details about her death here, can take action here, and if you'd like to read about my own personal struggle with grief and loss, well, I have a couple of those posts, as well.
Part of my process with grieving right now involves a certain amount of sharing the "practical" side of my experience with others. That means letting others know about what has been most beneficial to my well being, what helped me immediately after my friend's death, and what has helped me now (it is 5 months today, and I still feel frequent pangs of depression, anger and loss). Here is a list of 5 things that are helpful to know when your friend is going through a difficult time. Please circulate it to others, and feel free to add your own experiences and advice in the comments section.
1. Grief isn't linear. It's complicated. The stages of grief that are often part of the narrative of recovering from loss has its place in the way we may understand bereavement. But it is by no means a model that applies to everyone, particularly in circumstances of complicated or particularly traumatic grief (eg. losing a child, tragic or sudden death). Even in the cases of death we may see coming, we may not react in ways that others expect.
When Sheri died, I expected to be in a long stage of denial, followed by anger, then sadness, etc. This was not the case.