Suggestions, please, for supporting someone who has lost a loved one

  1. Brainstorms, please!

    I think we covered this topic recently and I can't find the thread now. My dear friend lost her husband this week following complications after surgery. They were married for many years; he was significantly older than her and as a result he had a son who is approximately the same age as my friend. That relationship is cordial at best, not supportive. She has no children and only one immediate family member, a brother who lives out of state.

    What can I do for her in terms of support, etc.? I was with her at the hospital translating the doctorspeak and drove her when she had to go and make the decision to turn off the life support. Needs during the critical times are easier to spot. What now?
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    About Nurse Ratched

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 6,586; Likes: 69
    RN - College Health
    Specialty: Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health


  3. by   Love-A-Nurse
    (((((hugs to you and your friend))))). i really do feel is all depends on where an individual is in their greiving process.

    when someone close to me died, i really didn't hear much that was being said and didn't want to talk for the most part. with that said, i would say being their to listen even if it is non-verbal communication.

  4. by   Rustyhammer
    I think just being there is sometimes good enough.
    Make sure she is taking care of herself (eating right and getting some rest) and help her through the funeral arrangements.
    Be a good listener, have a strong shoulder.
  5. by   live4today
    Hi Nurse Ratched

    I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your friend's husband.
    I agree with Stephany and Rusty on this one. Allow your friend to share what she feels like sharing as you simply offer her a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a warm embrace each time you see her, and try to inspire her with cheerful things to remember about her husband.

    Sometimes we assume that the person grieving does not want to talk about their loved one, but that isn't always the case. Follow your friend's lead on this one, and do not be afraid to say to her..."You know 'friend'...your husband was such a dear man who loved you very much. I don't mind if you talk about him to me...not at all. I'm here for you." Then...just be present with her. If she is in the mood to laugh....make her laugh. Whatever her mood might be...go with it. Whatever comforts her...go with that too. :kiss
  6. by   prn nurse
    Ditto all of the above.

    I would just trust my gut feelings. Everyone grieves in different ways.
    I would just listen for and watch for cues. And, ask, "what can I do to help?"

    "Call me." I always encourage the other person to call. She knows you care and are there for her.

    That , in itself is the # 1 aspect of support.
  7. by   aimeee
    You might offer to help her sort through his things when she is ready. She probably won't want to do this for a while, but every now and then you can gently repeat your offer and when the time is right, she may accept. There is usually a huge outpouring of attention and sympathy at the time of the funeral but once that is over everyone goes on with their lives and expects the bereaved to do the same. But grief isn't like that. It can take a long long time to come to terms with it. If she isn't talking about her loss she may be bottling things up inside, afraid to break the damn, or feeling like nobody wants to hear about it anymore. On days that were special, she will feel the loss especially keenly. You may want to open the door to discussion by sharing a fond memory of him with her.
  8. by   l.rae
    l never have good answers for these ?'s...probably cause there are no good answers....l would say...make yourself very sorry to hear this
  9. by   suzannasue
    I agree with all of the above postings...I had a very difficult time when my Mama died several years ago,not unexpected mind you, but suddenly, no time for good-byes or anything resembling closure. Those who comforted me the most were...just" there" for me. They allowed me to cry and soak their shoulders. They allowed me to experience that gut wrenching grief. Frequent visits and loads of love poured from them. When the immediate shock wore off, and no one else was around, those ppl were still around listening to me or allowing me to be silent. Frequent calls and visits enabled me to cope. They were also there for my Daddy, listening to his stories of their courtship and life together,checking up on him afterwards,too.
    I think you are a mighty fine friend, Nurse Ratched. You will know what to do and when to do it.