Tips for Friends to Help a Widow
1. Stay connected. There is already a huge gap in a widow’s world. Never assume that she needs space to grieve alone.
2. Say out loud that you are sorry for the loss and relate a personal story about the loved one. A widow would rather you tell her that you do not know what to say than to say nothing or tell your story of losing a friend or relative. She may be able to listen to your story later, but not now. Do not say you know what she is feeling or that you understand.
3. Make your offer of help specific, Can we go for a meal or walk together; I’m at the store can I bring you something; may I run an errand for you, or meet me for coffee tomorrow at ten. Please don’t just say, “Call me if you need anything.”
4. Refer to her late husband’s life, acts or words, serious or humorous. It’s a comfort to know he’s remembered, missed and not forgotten.
5. Invite the widow to anything from an event to a chat over tea. She may decline but will remember and appreciate being asked. Even as half of a couple, invite her.
6. Accept that grief is not linear and is a transition. The widow is where she is. Death comes in many ways and death and so is her own unique journey through grief. It is not a psychology textbook outline or timeline. Don’t be grief police.
7. Follow up with any suggestions. Do not make polite offers such as “I’ll call and we can go out to dinner” and then not follow up. A widow may be looking forward all week to the outing. Be sensitive to grieving and involve the widow. At least say that you have been thinking of them and make a plan to get together that you will keep.
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