Do You Have a Friend Who is Inconsolable?
It is common for friends of homicide victims to feel confused about how they can be a support. There is often uncertainty about what to say, how to act, and what to do. We hope the following guide offers some insight, however please feel free to contact us to find out further ways of helping your grieving friend.
DO – ask what they need from you. Be guided by what your friend needs right now, rather than what you think they need.
DO – remember these needs may change over time, so keep asking!
DO – offer practical support. Often people don’t know what they want; they just feel overwhelmed by it all. Consider offering practical and specific support. For example, “I’m going to cook for you guys on Friday night” or “I’m coming over on Saturday to help with some chores”. Many people may have difficulty driving at this time (people in trauma often have reduced concentration), you might offer to take them grocery shopping or to medical appointments.
DON’T – try to compete or compare with their grief. This is your friend’s private grief right now and they may need to talk it over. Unless your friend asks, avoid the temptation to remind them of when your grandmother died from cancer, or your cousin was killed in a car accident.
DON’T – place your expectations onto your friend. Remember there is no rhyme, reason, or timeline to grief. Your friend and your friendship may change. They might not be able to baby-sit for you for a while or they may not be interested in attending parties or eating out with you. It might help to see this as an opportunity to explore the boundaries of a new and closer friendship together.
DON’T – think you have to know all the answers. Focus on just being there for your friend, you don’t have to know the answers to all of their questions. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you don’t know, or that sometimes there are no reasons for why this tragedy has happened.
DO – be patient. Remember this is a new era for your friend as they become entangled in possible investigations and legal proceedings that will absorb a lot of their time and energy, on top of dealing with their grief.
DO – accept that your friend may change. Acknowledge this with them and let them know that you love them and will continue to support them regardless.
DO – enlist other friends to support. Take responsibility for building a support network, for the sake of both your friend and yourself. Encourage others to support the family by dropping off or picking up kids from school, cooking, cleaning, gardening or maintenance…or simply to just drop around for a coffee and a chat. Remember the African proverb; “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.
DO – avoid clichés. The worst thing you can say to a homicide victim, is “I understand”, when clearly you don’t. You don’t have to understand to support someone. Just being there, offering a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on is often enough.
Don’t look at me with pity: I need your strength
Don’t crowd me with words: Just let me talk
Don’t touch me: I will reach out when I’m ready
Don’t call me: I need time to think and work it through.
Don’t tell me how I should feel: Feelings are beyond my control at this time.
Don’t stop my tears and screams: They are my path to release and healing
Don’t cross the road to avoid me: Just smile and say “hello”
Don’t say you understand: Just thank God that you can’t
Don’t be hurt by what I say or do: My pain is clouding my judgement
Don’t think I’m going mad: I’m doing the best I can do to retain my sanity.
Don’t tell me I’ll forget: His memory is all I have left
And whatever you do……..
Don’t think I don’t appreciate you being here.
Following the murder of her son, Nigel.