Having just published a book called “A Christian Guide Through Insurmountable Loss”, I will add some advice on when a friend of yours suffers the death of beloved in their life.
As I mention in this book, there is a strong blur and shock initially from a great loss. Bear this in mind. Your friend may not be capable to speak about what they are feeling. There are many emotions all bottled up into one, and it causes a strong blur. They may want to express what they are feeling, but really can’t get the words out. So it is always best to text or email first, it is much easier to respond to you.
Ask the person if you are unsure when the best time to call is, or when they are ready to give you a call. This is showing consideration of what they are going through, and be assured, when they are ready they will respond. Don’t take it as a slight if they don’t, they saw your message, they may just not be ready to express anything.
If you don’t hear from them for awhile, text them again, leave a message. It is quite important that your friend knows you are thinking about them. It may take days, or weeks, but allow them the time to talk to you about it.
When my beloved dog Leo passed away, on that day, I texted my Mom to let her know I decided to let him go after his long battle with cancer. I told her not to call me, because I did not want to talk about it. She respected this, and I greatly appreciated it. When I was ready a day or so later, I gave her a call. A couple of others also respected what I was going through, they asked when it was an OK time. I called them both when the blur and shock eased a bit.
What to say to your friend? It is NOT important, what is important that you just listen. Never tell them what they should do or should not do, unless you fear they are going to take their own life. Don’t advise them on burials or memorials at this point, or self-help groups, or anything really. Your grieving friend is not ready yet, they are still processing the trauma and grief. If you are asked by your friend, it is only then appropriate to give such advice. Comfort them by telling them you are praying for them, and if there is anything they need that you are there. Listen more than speak during this time.
A great loss is a delicate time. Saying the wrong thing to a friend during this time can lose your friendship and most of all trust in you. Don’t expect your friend to be themselves, don’t ask “how are you doing?” because the answer is obvious, they are in misery. The simplest thing to say is that you are so sorry for their loss and you understand how hard this is, and it is also one of the most comforting.
Having been through some great losses in my life, I can say when your friend loses it all, just showing that you are thinking of them and grieving with them is a blessing they will come to appreciate. That you were there in the depths of their sorrow and misery holding their hands through this. You won’t be able to fix the great loss, so never try to do so. Just listen, encourage, and comfort, your friend will greatly appreciated this.