Interacting with a friend after a loss can feel awkward, especially if the loss was a death. You can cheer up your friend by acknowledging her pain, however, and listening to her thoughts while creating opportunities for her to work through her pain. Don't worry whether or not she responds to your efforts, as your thoughtfulness alone will help her to eventually put a smile back on her face.
Listen to Your Friend
Listening is more helpful than talking when a friend needs comfort after a loss, says Rabbi Efrem Goldberg in the article "Giving Comfort: The Ring Theory" on Aish.com. Sit with your friend and allow him to express his thoughts about the loss -- or simply listen to his thoughts on whatever subject he wants to talk about. Don't be quick to offer platitudes, simply being present will give him comfort and cheer.
Help Your Friend to Memorialize
Offer your friend ways to memorialize, says counselor Kate Evans in the article "Eight Tips to Help Console a Grieving Friend" on her business website. For example, you might plan a day to plant a tree in memory of the cousin who just died or suggest that the two of you raise money to make a donation to a cancer foundation in his name. Actively supporting your friend in this way as she resolves her grief can help to give her mood a boost. If the loss was not a person, but a job, burned-down house, etc., you can do the same. You might help your friend make a list of everything she hated about her job and then bury it in the backyard, for example.
Orchestrate a Transcendent Experience
After a loss, your friend may feel despondent over the unknowns in the world. Go camping with your friend and spend some time star gazing, contemplating how huge the universe is. Go on a road trip and drive to the top of a tall mountain, or view a natural wonder such as the Grand Canyon. You'll cheer your friend by helping him to gain a sense of oneness with the universe and a feeling that all is well.
Take Your Friend's Mind Off the Pain
If you're not comfortable directly addressing your friend's loss, but still want to cheer her up, leave it to the pros. Take her out for a night at the comedy club. If stand-up isn't her thing, bring her a DVD of a light-hearted comedy instead. The popular comedies "Meet the Fockers," "The Jerk" and "Dumb and Dumber" will guarantee a mood shift for the better, if only for a couple of hours. After your friend's loss, she may be lonely, so offer to watch the movies with her, and bring popcorn.
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