How to Comfort a Friend During the Anniversary of a Loved One's Death
While your friend may have lost a loved one years ago, the pain of that death haunts her every year on the anniversary of the death date. The anniversary conjures up the feelings of grief, anger, sadness, depression and even fear in your friend even years later. Make sure that you are there to lend your support as your friend relives the experience annually on the date of a loved one's death. You can make the grief less sharp and the experience less painful simply by being there for her.
Remember the anniversary date. Each year -- unless she requests otherwise -- recall and acknowledge the anniversary date of your friend's loss when speaking with her. In this way, your friend will know that she doesn't have to go through the anniversary on her own. Say something like, "I realized that your dad passed away two years ago today, how are you feeling?" Acknowledging the date can take away some of the feelings of isolation your friend may be feeling over the anniversary of the death of her loved one.
Send a note, card or small gift to commemorate the anniversary. Let your friend know that you are thinking about and concerned about her. It's a sweet gesture that can lend your friend support, even if you are not sure what to say to her.
Offer to accompany your friend to the grave site. You can also take her to engage in another activity that commemorates her loved one. Perhaps her mother loved the opera -- try to get a couple of tickets to attend. Visit a favorite leisure spot, like the lake or park. Take your friend to a ball game in honor of her baseball enthusiast brother. It can help your friend associate her loved one with happier times and activities. You can also take the time to share stories and memories to prove to your friend that her loved one has not been forgotten.
Allow your friend to grieve for as long as necessary. Grief has no specific time period, and varies from person to person 1. Even if it has been 10 years since the death of your friend's loved one, be there for her as she continues the grieving process. Don't lose your patience if your normally happy-go-lucky friend becomes upset and depressed on the same date each year. Just offer your support and be there for her so that she can take her time to heal as wounds are opened again each year.
Offer your support. Encourage her to talk to you if she's up to it. Use positive words like "She would be so proud of you," suggests the American Cancer Society website, when speaking of loved ones. Avoid saying things like "You're so strong," because it may make your friend feel uncomfortable when she experiences sadness. Instead, show a nonjudgmental attitude by telling your friend she can call you any time -- day or night -- to talk.
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