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10 Things to Remember When a Friend is Suffering a Loss

10 Things to Remember When a Friend is Suffering a Loss

When someone you know loses a loved one, it’s difficult to know what to say. Do we risk saying too much and upsetting them, or saying too little and isolating them? It’s a tricky tight rope but the key is being there. We can’t tell you what to say to help because there are no magic words. Honestly, it is better to be the friend who said the wrong thing, not the friend who said nothing at all.

1. Don’t let it become taboo.

Friendships can be tattered by that unspoken support, the repressed elephant cowering in the corner of the room. Relieve the tension, be part of your friend’s life, and you’ll both feel closer no matter how it goes.

2. If you can’t come up with the right words, make a kind gesture.

Some people aren’t the best at communication and can’t quite wrap their head around the verbalising of emotions. So why not fix the broken window for them, clean their house while they’re away planning the funeral, or simply just show up for a coffee as often as you can? The little things go a long way when our friends are suffering.

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3. Be cool.

Everyone else is acting weird so be the reliable friend, be normal. Your friend has been through a lot and could do with some normalcy and a return to routine. So be yourself and remind them that life hasn’t completely changed, because you haven’t.

4. When in doubt, hug.

Human contact can do wonders. So offer that tight hug and show that you are there and feeling deep empathy for your friend in their loss. Because sometimes it’s as simple as that.

5. Don’t panic.

Because there is no right thing to say. There’s no sentence you can use to fix everything, to make things easy, to make your friend all better and happy. It’s a rocky road and there’s nothing you can do to take the pain away. So the pressure’s off and don’t be worried if something you say triggers emotions. It’s part of the process.

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6. Surround them with their favorite things.

Flowers, chocolates, a good movie, whatever the order of the day, make sure you remind them that they are known and loved and very much alive.

7. Be a breath of fresh air.

Teach your friend the new karate moves you’ve learned, tell them about your busy day, or just talk about your pets. Don’t be too ecstatic but keep their brain occupied with new things.

8. Keep them active.

Encourage your friend to come for a run, to go for a cycle, to beat you at the gym circuit. The blood has to keep pumping so those endorphins can multiply and save the day.

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9. Talk about HeWhoMustNotBeNamed.

And no, I’m not talking about Voldemort. It’s easy to assume that the widow will break down at the mention of her husband’s name, that the orphan will flinch at the mention of parents, that any reference to the departed could remind your suffering friend of the loss and awake new realms of pain. But your friend already thinks about said lost partner, parent, sibling, all day. It’s not a post-it note that gets forgotten, it’s a constant shadow, so talking about it is therapeutic and calming.

10. Don’t flinch.

It’s easily done. Doling out emotional support and sentimental cliches is a tiring and difficult business and our natural reflex is often to change the subject and run away from hard conversations. Don’t flinch – your friend is bound to try and bury their head in the sand or run away from what has happened and it’s up to you to help them break this trend – rather than giving in to it.

Feature photo credit: Ed Gregory

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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