Taking Care of You


Take rest. The field that has rested gives a beautiful crop. Ovid

Being supportive of a bereaved friend is a worthy endeavor that may drain you of energy. It is important to attend to your own feelings and fatigue. When you take care of yourself you are better able to care for others.

Here are some suggestions to help replenish your mind, body and spirit:

Spend some time alone, reflecting upon all that has happened. Try keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, just seeing your thoughts on paper helps with perspective.

Go for a long walk.

Listen to your favorite music.

Take the time to be with your own family. Enjoy the experience. Laugh if you can.

Find someone to talk to who is not involved with your grieving friend. Objectivity can be a great reassurance that you are doing the very best you can.

Meditate, read or enjoy a favorite hobby. Pray if this comforts you.

Visit a relaxing and peaceful place on a regular basis, such as a beautiful church, art gallery, or park.

Try to eat a healthful diet and get enough sleep. For tips on sleeping better, go to 
Panic, Insomnia and Nightmares.

The Long-Term Role of Caring Friend


Your grieving friend is going to need your care and support as the weeks turn into months. This is especially true when other family members and friends return to their homes, their lives and their daily routines. The reality of death only begins to sink in after all the activities surrounding the funeral have ended. Your friend may need to talk now more than ever, but early enthusiasm for helping your grieving friend can give way to chronic fatigue.

The following suggestions will assist you in the long term role of caring friend:

Pace yourself. Often after a death, helpers rush forward to assist with the many tasks that need attention. Energy quickly runs out because it is impossible to keep up with their own lives while giving so much time to grieving friends. At this point, friendships begin to fray and families start to feel neglected. 
To avert this, recognize that it takes months or even years to grieve.(*) Decide how much of yourself you can reasonably give. Then pace yourself so that you will have the time and energy to help your friend as long as it takes.

Create balance in your life by developing a regular schedule to visit your friend. This may be once a week in the early stages, then every two weeks or once a month as time goes by. Your grieving friend will appreciate knowing that on a certain day, you will be there to talk, walk, help, visit the cemetery together, cry, or simply enjoy each other’s company.

Know your limits. Ask yourself first what you are willing to do. Don’t do something if you would rather not. Everyone has personal limits to helping and knowing them is taking care of you.
Sharing in your friend’s grief is more than a painful duty—it is a privilege because you are sharing the most intimate part of that person’s life. The reward for helping can be a friendship that is more precious than ever. But you can't be all things to all people. Please take care of you, too.
As I wrote earlier on this site, sorrow is a matter of taking turns. While reciprocity is not automatic, the chances are good that your friend will remember all that you gave during this time of heartache and will return the gift of love when it is your time to grieve.

(*)Note: We never completely stop grieving the death of someone we love. There will always be a degree of sadness, but the crippling aspects of new grief do subside over time. Click When Does the Grieving End? to read more.

References for This Article:

Fitzgerald, Helen. The Mourning Handbook. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. 

Go to next section: December's Deep Grief

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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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