We all have our own inner strengths, and when a friend is going through something painful, we can offer them our strength to lean on. Offering our time and our ear is a great way to help a friend process the painful emotions that can come while trying to cope with the death of a loved one, especially to addiction.
Here are 3 ways you can be there for a friend who has lost a loved one through the devastating disease of addiction.
1. Be present.
It can be shocking and sudden when a loved one dies from addiction. Many times the family members that are left behind aren't prepared to deal with the loss, and it can come by surprise, taking them for a loop. They may be left with unanswered questions that can compound their grief as they ask themselves what more they could have done or said.
Being present for our friend is a valuable asset as they move through the loss. Talking to them and listening to their stories and grief can help them process their loved one's death. We can help pick up the slack with things they aren't able to do themselves during this time, like cooking a meal, grocery shopping or giving them company. We can offer to give them a ride or just be there when they need someone to talk to.
2. Be a listening ear.
We can't pretend to have all the answers and understand the difficulties of addiction and how it can affect people around us, but we can offer our friendship and sympathy to a friend who needs an outside party to talk to. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to just listen, and provide positive feedback. Losing a loved one through addiction is painful.
Some people may have never gotten that last word or visit, and they may be feeling guilty or sad that they didn't do more. We can reassure them that they didn't choose this, and most likely even if they had done all they could, they may not have necessarily changed the outcome. Addiction is a personal battle that the addict wages, and only they have the power to enter sobriety. There are those that lose that battle, and it is always unfortunate and just a reminder that we can be grateful for our own sobriety and that we're healthy enough to offer our help to those in need when we can.
3. Be productive.
What are some other nice things you can do, besides provide emotional support, for a friend who has lost a loved one through addiction? Offer to run an errand for them, or provide childcare as they deal with the hard work of making arrangements. Little things that can make this time a little easier for them help out immensely. Take them out for coffee, or research resources that provide support for those who are dealing with loved ones who have addictions. Support groups can help many people out after a death and give them a vehicle for expressing important emotions and grief.
The loss of someone through addiction is a painful reminder of this dangerous disease. It isn't uncommon for us to face the reality of a loved one going through the loss of a family member who may have died from addiction. We tend to feel helpless when this happens, and struggle for the right words to say. Comforting a friend through a difficult time such as this can be invaluable.