This morning I was catching up on my podcast backlog (I am perpetually at least a month behind), and I was glad to hear Christa Couture’s guest-host run on CBC Radio’s Tapestry program. The episode "Better ways to live with grief” is a rich dive into dealing with grief, whether you’ve lost a loved one, or are trying to be a supportive friend to someone else.
Couture shared excellent conversations with psychologist David Feldman, Griefcast podcast host Caraid Lloyd, and Empathy card creator Emily McDowell (who makes some of my very favourite greeting cards).
McDowell gave some handy tips on how to be helpful when you're trying to support someone who's suffering after a death, diagnosis, or difficult time. She notes that many of us instinctively say, "let me know how I can help." Often, however, the person receiving the offer is overwhelmed and doesn't actually know what they need in the moment. As well, they many not want to feel like they are burdening someone with a boring task by asking in that moment or later.
The better route, McDowell suggests, is to do something that you love to do, and that you can offer with joy, rather than out of a sense of obligation. Not a whiz in the kitchen? Don't worry about making a casserole -- go over and weed the garden instead. Offering something that you already enjoy makes it more likely that you'll actually do it, and it's more likely to feel supportive to your friend as well.
This episode also had some excellent suggestions for what not to say to someone who's grieving, but I'll encourage you to pour a cup of tea and give it a listen for yourself. It’s a great hour of time well spent.
Before you do that though, let me know in the comments below what sorts of things you've done to support a grieving friend or family member. I'd love to come up with a list of suggestions for practical offerings that we can all share.