When a Friend Grieves: Your Guide to Being a Super Hero

So the last two months have been great.

They've also been tough.

{Perhaps an understatement?}

Fortunately, we have some amazing friends
who have made our lives a bit brighter
and have keep us incredibly taken care of.

I hope that no one ever goes through what we did,
but if/when you find a friend going through a tough time-
here are some ways we have been (& continue to be) loved
that have rocked our world.

So skim this post today,
but bookmark it for later
when you need to put on your knight armor
& trot off to rescue someone in need.

Who ever knows what to say in such circumstances?

Probably not you,
but the good news is that 
your friend that is hurting doesn't have 
the right words to say either.

No one really knows what to say on either end.

Are you doing okay?
Well, no not really.

I understand what you're going through.
Great, but it still hurts.

Is there anything I can do?
Yes, but I have no clue where to start.

When you're in these moments,
here are some ways to say that you care
without actually saying it.


Once a week, bring by essentials: 
bread, milk, coffee, jam, toilet paper, kleenex, magazines,
cereal, fresh fruit, or whatever else they might often use.

It's an easy, quick way to help
keep life going on
when it feels anything other than normal.

Perhaps the most common route,
but not one to be overlooked!

This is a tangible way for you to send your thoughts.

We got flooded with cards
that at the time,
I couldn't really process...
but these days,
these letters and thoughts 
are so sweet to read over.

And over time, it will be a nice reminder
of who walked through this with us.

{Emails are also pretty sweet, too.}


Another amazing thing:
friends that have sent postcards & notes at random
now weeks later
sending sweet notes to uplift us,
silly notes written from "Kate Middleton,"
& encouraging us with sweet sentiments.

The first thing I think is important to say
is that the first response wave is crucial to helping someone through tragedy...

These are the people that come and visit you in the hospital.
They send flowers & baskets of muffins to warm up your home.
Their presence helps make the suddent impact of everything better.

Then comes the second round.
These are the meals that are brought to lighten the daily load.
These are the letters & cards that arrive to offer love and mark the occasion.
These are the gifts that try to ease the loss.

But after the initial shock is over
and people go about their daily routine,
the hurting are still reeling.

And then, comes the (often forgotten,) third round.

This is where small notes arrive in the mail after the others have stopped
just reminding you that you are being thought of & prayed over.
These are the flowers that arrive months later when the others have long been thrown out.
This is the massage appointment that has been booked for you.

My advice is this:
reach out initially with love
and immediately call a florist/spa/food delivery service
and do whatever it is that you can do to love them...
but arrange that the gift is given several weeks later.

It will remind them that someone is still thinking of them
and offer a huge impact in the quieter days ahead.


We were lucky to have friends use the amazing site,
to coordinate meals & drop-offs
that were scheduled for 4 nights a week
for eight weeks after our babies were born.

It was so nice and gave us time to see everyone 
and visit with them individually.

We were spoiled with special gifts
from friends & family
that eased our grieving 
and commemorated our daughters.

Beautiful jewelry with the girls initials to wear as a reminder,
relaxing bath oil to use when I needed to hide out,
& sweet handmade blankets knitted with love and prayers.

When everything sucks in your life,
it may seem shallow- 
but it does feel great to be pampered.

You need to have some sort of win,
and while things won't ever replace your loss,
it does make you feel like you're ahead of the game 
in some small way.


So there you have it.

I hope you don't have to use any of this anytime soon...
but if/when you do-
just know that no matter how you reach out in love for someone,
you probably can't go wrong.

Doing anything is better than doing something that isn't perfect.


  1. When my Mom's husband passed away unexpectedly 7 years ago, she said that those early days and weeks weren't the hard part. It was after everyone left. When the phone calls stopped and the visits. She wouldn't go home at night because she couldn't handle the quiet. Even now... after all this time. When someone calls to tell her they were thinking of Max and they reminisce it is part of the healing process for her.

    I hope your hearts start feeling better soon. I can't even imagine what you're going through.

  2. What a beautiful post. And such great advice. Continued prayers for you and your family.

  3. I seriously bookmarked this and sobbed while reading it. I wish I was in London, so I could bake you so many delicious gluten free things and do the running man outside your flat to make you laugh. Because I would, honest.

  4. Ok - this post totally made me cry. I wasn't expecting that. Exhale....
    Truly beautiful, Lauren. And it is most definitely bookmarked. I love the advice about sending gifts/notes/help in the third wave, because probably that's when help is most needed (since at the beginning you are overwhelmed & flooded with it).

  5. When we were learning to talk to families of patients who we lost, our professor used the mantra, "don't just do something, stand there!" I think people sometimes feel compelled to say things that don't come from the heart, things that they totally mean to be helpful and kind to the bereaving family, but end up doing more harm than good. I hope your medical team was supportive during the difficult time that you continue to face now. And I am so, so, sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

  6. Lauren,
    I love your Sympathy Bucket list. I love all your ideas. When friends visited me after I cam home from the hospital, they would say "What do you need" - "What can I bring" and I would always ask for the most practical things, like toilet paper and you know they appreciated that. Honesty is really what we want from friends.
    I lost a dear friend to cancer and created a book of "limericks' with my artwork and when I visit that home, I still pick up that book and love looking at all those who created laughter for her while she put up a good fight.

  7. Lauren,
    if you ever decide to write a book, it would be an honor to be the illustrator.

  8. Thank you for this post. Nearly three years ago, a dear friend delivered her son, and immediately it was apparent things were badly wrong. They didn't think he'd leave the hospital, so I went there, taking newborn photos. Then he did make it home, but it was a tortured existence for the little love. He lived one year and one month.

    I had no idea what to do but came across an article that said a lot of what you're saying here, but the one that struck me the most was the long term. So many times, it takes months for the shock to wear off, and 6-7 months down the road was a really rough time. I tried to do this, send a note randomly. Call her and plan a lunch date. I know it meant a lot to her, but honestly, as someone close to someone grieving, it meant as much to me to be able to provide a modicum of comfort.

    I am confident that you have that, and I'm so glad. Thank you again for such an insightful post.

  9. This is perfect. When my mom went through cancer, there was one family that cooked for our family once every week. EVERY. WEEK. We were so blessed by this act of kindness and it eventually became our favorite thing during the week. A day to look forward to in the midst of darkness. The speck of light in a beautiful act of selflessness and kindness.

    Thanks Lauren! Praying for your sweet family. Enjoy your trip back to the states!

  10. Lauren- you are such an amazing and strong woman. Writing this post must have been difficult and heartbreaking, but you did it so that others can benefit. Love and prayers to you and yours!

  11. That's an excellent list, my sister lost one of her twins at birth, I wasn't much help then but I have gone though my father's death and so back up what you say about caring a few months down the line, thats when i felt most alone.

  12. This is such a great list. And I think it can be applied to more than just grieving a death. When I was going through my cancer stuff, I was surprised how few people really rallied around me. There were some days that I felt like I had more emotional support from the blogging community than my own family. But I think it was just because people don't know what to do/say to young people who experience illness/tragedy. That's not the way things are supposed to happen and people just aren't great at dealing with it when it does. But I did have a few people who followed a list similar to this one and it made a huge difference. And putting together this list will really help other people feel loved and supported when they unfortunately have to go through something horrible.

    On a happier note, I wanted to tell you that Viola is SUCH a cutie! She could not be more of a mix between you and Tyler. :)

  13. Such great tips! I'm so glad that you've been taken care of during such a difficult time.

  14. such great advice... i'm so glad that you had such wonderful support from your friends and family.

    thinking and praying for your little family today. *hugs*

  15. Thank you ... this is needed advice.

  16. I hope I never have to use this, but am glad to have it bookmarked. Hope you're doing well these days with that cutie of yours!

  17. This is such an amazing post Lauren - I am so sorry that you had to write it from experience though.
    Such honest words that could help and benefit so many people. I have been through some difficult times with friends and family and those third round days are definitely the hardest - and when you need people the most!

  18. You're so thoughtful to take the time to write all this out, and so well too! Your mention of the third round couldn't be more true. I think its so easy to move on and not account for the hurt they're still feeling but more that I get the silly thought that I'm a nuisance to them or that I'm only making them think of their grief more by sending it in the third round, so even though that might sound weird, thank you for clearing that up. :)

  19. This is so wonderful, thank you for putting it together. I always feel awkward trying to help, but I think this will make it better! You're amazing and strong, and even though we've never met, I still think of you and wish you well (and obviously follow your blog daily!) :)

    Enjoy that massage! You deserve it! (Tyler too!)

  20. Thank you for this post. Sometimes, a little bit of guidance is so educational for those of us who want to always help but never sure how to go about doing so (other than the thoughtful emails).


  21. That third step... everyone forgets about that third step. It's vitally important.
    I was just thinking about you today and prayed you are doing better. Sending even more love this day.

  22. I love this. And I agree, the third round of people are often the ones that don't get enough credit for helping. After one of my miscarriages, I remember a friend who sent me a card around the time of what should have been my due date. Just getting that card made a huge difference to me, that someone remembered. Also, my mom bought me a big huge fluffy (EXPENSIVE) Little Giraffe blanket, something I never would've spent the money on for myself -- and that darn blanket might be my most favorite thing on the planet.

    You're on my heart often and I've prayed for you as you come to mind. I don't know how you've managed to handle it all. Hang in there! xoxo

  23. That is such a great post. I just wish I could have done more for you then sending something. Having gone through loss myself I really enjoyed the things you had listed here.


    Bonnie Rose | a Compass Rose

  24. Lauren, you are amazing to let others know what to do in such a sad story. Thank you for telling us!

    Some years ago, a friend of mine lost both twins. And I couldn't give her a call, as I was not able to talk to her. Just thinking of what happened made (and still makes) me cry terribly. I thought I will make things worse, since she is the one with the loss, not me. How I handled (or not handled) the situation created something cold inbetween us, I feel. I wrote a letter though. Later, I appologized once over the phone (and cried) for not having been supportive. She said, she learned different people grieve differently.

    But I wish I would have had a better idea to show her how much I care.

  25. Lauren, this is so wonderful. I never have ANY idea what to do when someone is hurting- from a break up, or a bereavement- and I totally agree that the third phase is definitely SO important. I'm so sad for you that you have had to go through such a tough time, but so happy you've had wonderful friends to help you through all of this. xx

  26. Bookmarked and noted!! I'm actually in Dallas with my mother. She was in a serious hit and run car accident (she was driving). She ended up with a shattered leg, surgery, rods, pins, screws and 2 weeks of rehab, b/c some guy decided to drink and drive. She won't walk normally for 6 months to a year. And lives alone. In a 2 story home.

    My brother and sister-in-law were the first wave. She got home Saturday and that's when I arrived. The 2nd wave. And, luckily she has many friends that will continue the waves.

    And, by no means is this even in the ballpark of what you have experienced....but I think you've given some brilliant advice for anyone who wants to help and doesn't really know how. I guess showing up (in any way) is the start.

    Continue to hold you and Tyler in my thoughts and prayers.
    xoxo Elizabeth

  27. i think this is great and such a great help on what to do and when.

  28. My best friend lost one of her twin boys a month after he was born. She had a terrible pregnancy spent mostly on bed rest in the hospital and then around 27 weeks the boys insisted on making their debut. We've spent the past six months spending time together in the hospital and I wouldn't trade that for the world. I always wondered if I was doing the right thing by just being there for her and if that was enough. When her son died, he took a piece of me with him. Watching her hold him after he passed was agonizing. I wanted more than anything to take that pain from her. I felt totally helpless. The days following, I spent quite a bit Of time keeping family fed, etc but what I learned along the way was that a simple dinnerl spent talking about the little guy and reminiscing about how cute his ears were and crying because we just want him here...this was what she needs. Someone she can throw the act away with and talk about the things she is feeling. Thank you for posting this. It's so refreshing to see this si everyone can be reminded that when it really makes and impact is that phase three.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...