We’ve all been there; one of your acquaintances suffers a personal loss. How do you cope? What can you do to help cushion the blow and show your respect and support? Read on to find the best ways to help your acquaintances along through their grief without imposing.
The first and most important tip is to take your cues from the acquaintance in question, so as to ensure you don’t overstep the boundaries of your relationship with him or her. This will allow you to tailor your attentions to the situation and build a friendship rather than risk bad blood between you and your acquaintance – meeting a new person whilst grieving is not for everyone, and you’ll want to give your acquaintance plenty of space.
A nice, heart-felt card is a good way to go. Often people aren’t sure what to say, in these situations, even to people they know very well. The good news is that is a lot easier when the person suffering a loss is not very close to you to begin with. You are well within your rights to grab a card with a sentiment printed readily within, without feeling you must add your own thoughts and feelings with a pen. You can simply go with, “Please let us know if we can help,” or even “Our deepest sympathies,” without seeming unnecessarily cold or unfeeling. Making sure people know how to contact you if they need you is nice, but as an acquaintance it is not something you are obliged to do. It’s a good idea to bear in mind your audience, again; the elderly neighbour who is suddenly alone could do with someone to call on in times of trouble. On the other hand, someone who is already inundated with offers of help may be less in need of your offer.
Helping out with tangible things is a great thing to do. Walking the family dog, taking an elderly acquaintance shopping or taking on some gardening tasks can all help take a lot of the pressure off of the family affected. This needn’t be a permanent arrangement; you can simply offer to do it for a specific time to help out with the funeral or ease off when you feel a need to.
When there are small children involved, it can be very helpful to offer to watch them. After a death many unavoidable things have to be done and some are easier, or only possible, without small children in tow. Having someone who volunteers to watch those children can be an absolutely invaluable help. You can even offer to watch them during the funeral, if they will not be attending, which can take a lot of the pressure off the grieving acquaintance in question.
Ultimately, you yourself are best placed to figure out what you can do for your mourning acquaintance. Just keep your eyes open and try to fill in the gaps wherever you can see them. Ultimately, some heart-felt words are all anyone can expect from you; all the rest is gravy.