Chaplain, I have a friend whose husband died recently. They were married forty years, and she is finding it very difficult to cope. I have offered information to her about support groups but she will not listen to me. It is really so frustrating when you know that your friend needs help, but they will not take the advice you offer. How can I help her?
Thank you so much for caring about your friend. Caring is the first step. You must understand that her pain is very real, and she had her husband for forty years. So, it will take some time for her to go through this journey of grief. It is a process. She will need understanding and respect as to where she is and how she is feeling. I think giving her information that can be helpful to her would be good, but you can tell her that she can use the information when she is ready. You can also offer to be available to go with her to a support group when she finally decides to go. Not everyone finds healing in a support group. Your friend may do better with a pastor, chaplain, or counselor. She must make the decision that works best for her. In order to heal, she will need to mourn. She will need to have lots of opportunities to talk when she wants to, and you can be available to her as she shares her fears, etc. This process cannot be rushed. We are not here to fix our friends but to journey with them. They can teach us so much as we sit and are good listeners. You can also pray for your friend and help her with some practical things like walking her dog if she has one, making meals, driving her places, cleaning her house, or helping to get groceries. These are wonderful ways to show support. Many people are available immediately after the death of someone but very few stay and give continued support which is what people really need. Bring your frustrations to God, asking Him to give you wisdom as you support your friend.