Ohhh man. How do you comfort someone who has lost his mother?

Profile picture of the author ChloeCKimberley by ChloeCKimberley Posted: 04/10/2012
This is depressing.

My friend lost a dad 20 years ago from colon cancer, and now my friend has to face the same thing all over again from a mother who died in surgery... without seeing her for the last time. So sorry for the loss

Any ideas how to cheer my friend up? Or at least get my friend back up?

  • Profile picture of the author Tobarja
    Tobarja
    IMO, you're at a at a disadvantage because you're a woman. I'm not being sexist, I'm not trying to be rude or mean. Guys typically process things different. You're probably not going to talk him through this.

    He's going to be angry. He's going to be dazed. He's going to be upset by the paperwork and loose ends that have to be done.

    Be there, and leave, but don't make a fuss about either. Do something unrelated that needs to be done if you can, but not if he's about to do it himself. (We sometimes do trivial things to distract ourselves.)

    His routine will be messed up for several days. If you don't see him leveling off in four or five days, then I would start to be concerned.

    IANA psychologist, YMMV, there may be weather tomorrow.
  • Profile picture of the author Halcyon
    Halcyon
    Originally Posted by Tobarja View Post

    IMO, you're at a at a disadvantage because you're a woman. I'm not being sexist, I'm not trying to be rude or mean. Guys typically process things different. You're probably not going to talk him through this.
    :confused: Sorry but that was extremely sexist. You're saying that being female is a disadvantage, in this case? Huh? She's not trying to lift a semi, she's trying to help a friend. If we're going to stereotype, in this case being female is a plus.


    That being said, I agree that it's important not to push. Each person processes grief differently so give him time to get over the initial shock. Trying to cheer someone up after a loss such as big as this can backfire, if you're close friends, your presence will be enough.

    Simply ask if there is anything he needs you to do. For some people just having someone reliable to feed and walk their dog while they tend to other matters helps. Others may want someone to just sit and watch TV with them so they're not alone. Then others may actually want to talk about their Mom and how angry they are. Everyone is different and it takes a long time to heal from the death of a parent so I wouldn't worry about his sadness unless he starts behaving dangerously.

    Play it by ear for a few weeks, you know him best.
  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    seasoned
    Originally Posted by Halcyon View Post

    :confused: Sorry but that was extremely sexist. You're saying that being female is a disadvantage, in this case? Huh? She's not trying to lift a semi, she's trying to help a friend. If we're going to stereotype, in this case being female is a plus.


    That being said, I agree that it's important not to push. Each person processes grief differently so give him time to get over the initial shock. Trying to cheer someone up after a loss such as big as this can backfire, if you're close friends, your presence will be enough.

    Simply ask if there is anything he needs you to do. For some people just having someone reliable to feed and walk their dog while they tend to other matters helps. Others may want someone to just sit and watch TV with them so they're not alone. Then others may actually want to talk about their Mom and how angry they are. Everyone is different and it takes a long time to heal from the death of a parent so I wouldn't worry about his sadness unless he starts behaving dangerously.

    Play it by ear for a few weeks, you know him best.
    Give tobarja a break. Women DO react differently usually. That is NOT sexist! HEY, you're a woman. You're DIFFERENT! That doesn't make you ANY less! And if someone called you BLACK, you shouldn't take offense.

    There are a LOT of differences here! You don't know his relationship with his mother, etc... Give condolences, offer to help, and let HIM make the next move!

    I lost MY mother, and she had earlier caused me a LOT of grief. She EVEN stalked me, and squated in my home. So I ended up being at odds with the whole thing. My mother EVEN convinced a priest that I was trying to commit her for no reason. He let her out, and got her a place and, LUCKILY, before she died, pulled the SAME garbage on him and his friends.

    If I had a girlfriend that wanted to really console me through that, I would just have been angry, and even have worse memories about my mother. Of course, I would have tried to make the girlfriend believe that I appreciated it, since I would not want HER to feel bad.

    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Frank Donovan
    Chloe, you sound as though you're a close friend. You'll know about the relationship your friend had with his mother. It could be that the relationship evolved into a more supportive one after his father's death. Understanding that might help you to decide how best to offer comfort.

    In my experience, when a person suffers such a loss, it's not cheering up they need. It's knowing that their friends are there for them.

    Losing both parents can make you feel very alone, so just reassure your friend that he doesn't have to go through this process on his own.

    You can help with practical matters where possible, but the only way your friend will heal is to let time take its course. Eventually the pain will fade, if not the memory.

    Good for you for being such a friend.


    Frank
  • Profile picture of the author Dan Riffle
    Dan Riffle
    Having lost a parent and a child, I can tell you I mainly wanted to be *left* alone, but didn't want to *be* alone. There's a difference.

    All people are different, but I'd suggest being there for him but let him work through it at his own pace. As people, we want to make things better for others. Sometimes, though, the only power we have is to be a shoulder to lean on. That's my suggestion for you.

    Oh, and food always helps. He'll probably be so preoccupied that he may not think about cooking or eating.
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Kay King
    He has to go through the grieving process - there are several steps and thought patterns from denial to guilt to acceptance.

    Just offer an ear and a shoulder while he works his way through it. That's all you can do - but it's what he needs.

    Hopefully, he'll be able to transition into celebrating her life rather than mourning her death...but that comes with time.
  • Profile picture of the author Halcyon
    Halcyon
    Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

    Give tobarja a break. Women DO react differently usually. That is NOT sexist! HEY, you're a woman. You're DIFFERENT! That doesn't make you ANY less! And if someone called you BLACK, you shouldn't take offense.

    ...

    Steve
    I sent you a pm on this one.
  • Profile picture of the author MoneyMagnetMagnate
    MoneyMagnetMagnate
    As far as the way the two genders process grief, in my experience, women do generally seem to be much more adept at handling it and have an easier time expressing their emotion, while men will tend to internalize the process. (imo)

    My condolences.
  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Dennis Gaskill
    EVERYONE processes grief differently. There are many different factors involved. For example, Tobarja said your friend would be angry. That may or may not be true. I never had anger when either of my parents died.

    Frank Donovan gave the best advice, in my opinion, when he wrote, "Losing both parents can make you feel very alone, so just reassure your friend that he doesn't have to go through this process on his own. You can help with practical matters where possible, but the only way your friend will heal is to let time take its course. Eventually the pain will fade, if not the memory."

    Let him know you're there for him, check on him, help where you can, but also be aware that he may need space. The important point is that, as much as you'd like to, you can't take away the pain, you can only help him through it -- and then only as much as he'll let you.
  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    HeySal
    Give your friend a hug. Pour him a drink or make him some lunch - and ask if there are any details that need tended to so he can do what he needs to do. Don't talk unless he wants to sit and talk - just be "present" unless he expresses (not necessarily in words) the need to be alone.

    Know you cannot heal this wound. Let him know you are there for whatever he needs.

    It's all you can do and it will be appreciated later.

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