It’s a phone call you dread. Your friend calls and is upset. You can barely understand what your friend is saying but then you understand – your friend’s spouse died. What do you do? Sometimes death is expected if your friend’s spouse has been sick. Sometimes death is unexpected. Either scenario, it’s a very difficult time for your friend when their spouse dies.
In my practice, I work with surviving spouses. It’s a time when listening, setting priorities and being patient are essential. Also, I have friends who unfortunately, have lost their spouse. From my experiences, here are four key things to do when your friend’s spouse dies:
1- Understand grief will change a person. Someone who was once energetic and smart may all of a sudden become tired and foggy in thought. Someone who was once very thoughtful may all of a sudden become forgetful. Someone who was once very polite may all of sudden become rude and agitated. All of these behavioral changes are caused by grief.
2- Listen and be comfortable with silence. Stop talking. Just be there to listen or to hold your friend’s hand. Each person is different when dealing with grief. Your friend may not want to talk but may not want to be alone either. On the other hand, your friend may want to talk. Don’t interrupt or try to resolve their issues – let your friend talk.
3- Be patient. Don’t rush your friend to get over it and move on with life. Losing a spouse is different than losing a parent or a pet. Let your friend go through their grieving process on their own terms. Of course, step in if you have concerns about their physical health.
4- Suggest specific ways you can help. During the grieving process, simple tasks may become too overwhelming. Your friend may not be able to do simple tasks such as buying groceries, walking the dog or watering plants. Offer to take on one or more tasks. If your friend is drowning in paperwork, offer to help or help your friend find a virtual assistant. When offering to help, be specific.
When your friend’s spouse dies, there are a myriad of things which need to be accomplished. But the most important thing is to make sure you are a good friend. Be there with your friend. It’s a difficult time. You don’t have to have the right words just show up – oh, and it helps to bring a bag of DOVE® chocolates which have encouraging sayings inside each wrapper.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her clients tend to be going through a major life transition (new graduate, marriage, growing family, divorce, widow/er, empty nest, etc.). Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”