The Friend's Role
Funerals bring families and friends together for mutual support. Your grieving friends may not have a chance to tell you, but your presence could mean more to them than you will ever realize.
Show them you care about them with a hug, a firm handshake, or a gentle pat on the shoulder. Just say, "I'm sorry," don't try to come up with profound statements about life and death. Don't say, "I know how you feel," because you don't. The grief each person feels depends on the relationship he/she had with the deceased, and no two relationships are exactly alike.
If your friends are suffering through the death of a baby, don't try to comfort them by telling them it may have been for the best and don't say things like, "You can always have another baby." They are feeling sad because they've lost this baby, and one child cannot replace another.
It is very important for your friend to talk about the death so he/she can accept it. Remember, your friend may show a variety of reactions to death. They may become angry, feel guilty, or become depressed. In any case, it is important for them to express their emotions; this is one step in resolving grief. You as a friend can help most by listening, not by changing the subject.
You can help in many ways. Grieving is hard work, and it can last a long time. Your friend is still under a great deal of pressure, and you can lighten the load by offering to do laundry, cook dinner, or even baby-sit.
If your friend recently became a widow or widower, he or she may feel isolated. You can help by calling with an invitation to dinner or to some social functions. If your friend refuses this time, wait a few weeks and try again. Don't wait for him or her to call you; your friend may feel too awkward to reach out to anyone.
Remember that the death of someone close can change a person. Your friend's life has been torn apart, and putting it back together may mean finding a new role in life or a new way of looking at himself or herself. This can change the relationship you have with your friend. But what is most important is that the friendship remains.