Losing a mother at any life stage is painful, but it is especially so when your friend is still going through the growing pains of the teen years and early adulthood. You may feel unsure about what to do or say at this time, but these feelings are completely normal. The important thing is to let your friend know you are there and willing to help.
After hearing the news, you might say something like, "I'm so sorry," "This must be so difficult for you" or "Your mother was always so kind to me. I am going to miss her," according to an article from Funeralwise. Your most important job during this time is to acknowledge your friend's loss. Try offering a listening ear to your friend, giving him plenty of opportunity to express his fears and worries without making judgments or trying to give advice.
Avoid Platitudes and Comparisons
Your friend needs time to work through her grief -- so you should avoid telling her, "Be strong," or "Don't cry." You should also avoid comparing her mother's death to any deaths you have experienced previously or telling your friend that you "know" how she feels because this can feel like you are discounting her emotions and experiences, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services LifeCare Guide, "Helping Others Cope With Grief." Discouraging talk about the death, or not mentioning her mother's name, can also make your friend feel more alone with her grief. If you give advice during this time, phrase it as a gentle suggestion. For example, you might say, "Can I help you put together that collage?" instead of, "You need to stop working on that and get some rest."
After hearing of a loss, many people write sympathy notes and send flower arrangements to the family's home or to the funeral home. You can also offer to help with any funeral arrangements, write a eulogy or prepare a scrapbook to display at a memorial service, according to Funeralwise. You might also offer to pick up any assignments your friend has from school or help him with school projects. Picking him up from school, preparing dinner for him and otherwise offering your companionship can bring comfort during such a difficult time.
Keep a Watchful Eye
It is OK to gently encourage your friend to get plenty of exercise and stick to healthy meals. Giving her a journal to record her thoughts and allowing her distance when she needs it can also be helpful and comforting, according to the American Family Children's Hospital article, "Death and Grief." Remembering to call or see how she is doing after the funeral is also important, as the support network of mourners tends to dwindle after a funeral, according to the Emily Post Institute. If grief is affecting the rest of your friend's life, or her grief seems to stay the same or grow worse over time, encourage her to see a therapist or mental health counselor immediately.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images