Is it normal to feel this way

My friend recently lost a family member and I have been trying to be present whenever I can and support them but I feel as if im not emotionally/mentally equipped to support them, I feel bad because I don't know what to say or how to react, but I dont want them to think i'm being dismissive or like I dont care but im not good at expressing my emotions to other people

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89% Normal
Based on 9 votes (8 yes)
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Comments ( 3 )
  • CountessDouche

    I've been through the same experience more than a few times, unfortunately. Having someone who you care about deeply experience a loss in their life is an incredibly difficult experience as a friend or loved one & what you are feeling is very normal. I'll just share with you the way I've learned to handle it.

    First of all, not knowing what to say or do in order to help is a very normal reaction. As a friend, your immediate desire is to help or to fix the situation and to take away the negative emotions your friend is experiencing. Unfortunately, you can't fix a loss like that or heal someone's grief with the right words. Logically, we all know that's not how grief works. Emotionally, however, that can make people very uncomfortable as a friend because they are very unsure how to behave. That's a very common response.

    Also, unfortunately, this will lead to a lot of people in your friend's life avoiding him/her outside of a few awkward words of condolence. So... I think making an effort to be a good friend during a hard time like this, in spite of your own discomfort, is important.

    So how do you handle it? There's no good answer, but I've kind of learned through trial and error what seems to work.

    First of all, bring it up once and only once and then leave it be.

    It's important that you have a conversation to let them know you acknowledge what happened and that you care. Acknowledge that you don't know what to say & that you understand that there are no good things to say & that people will say a bunch of cringey ass shit, but you won't because there's no words. The only thing to say is that you are sorry and that you love them and that you are listening.

    And leave it at that. Don't bring it up again unless your friend wants to talk about it. You might want to, but it's time to put your needs second. Your friend might want to talk about it a lot and they might never bring it up. People grieve differently & there are tons of ups and downs. The last thing they'll want is to be forced to think about their loss or discuss it on someone else's schedule.

    Second, ASK them what they need.

    They might now know the answer. That's OK. Most people don't.

    Some people need alone time. Some need distraction. Some need to just cry. Some need affection or jokes or to remember the happy moments from their relatives life. Offer any of that and all of that.

    Tell them you will be there no matter what they need. If they need space, say you understand. If they want to sit in silence with you, then just sit.

    Thirdly, listen.

    Just listen. If they want to talk, let them. Try not to give advice about how you think they should handle things. You can relate their experience to your life in small ways to let them know you feel empathy, but be careful not to make the conversation about you.


    Just show up in little ways. When people suffer a huge loss, they sometimes struggle to do basic stuff like eat or clean. If you're visiting, bring food you made them. Casually wipe down the kitchen or wash some dishes while you chat. Don't make a big thing out of it. It'll make them uncomfortable. Just do little things here & there if you notice they need help.


    Just pay attention to them. They might not know what to ask for. If you notice they aren't going out, offer to drop by and watch a movie. Easy things that don't take a lot of social energy, where they feel obligated to talk. See how they do with a distraction. Make jokes. If that seems to help, then you got something. If not, try something else


    If you don't hear from them, don't press, especially if they asked for space. Do text them every few days & ask them how they are

    Tldr: it is fucking awkward. Grief is awkward and uncomfortable. You want to help, but there's no right thing to say. Ask, offer, listen to them and their needs, pay attention to what works & just be there consistently. Make it about them and not about you

    When you lose someone, and inevitably you will, that friend will be right there by your side too.

    This is the really hard and unpleasant part of friendship. It's the bit that makes your friendships life long though

    I know it sucks, though. I'm sorry this is happening.

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  • Armsage

    It’s super normal. You’re not a licensed mental health professional so keep what you do with that in mind. Just be there. That’s all they really need.

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  • RoseIsabella

    Sometimes people just need an ear to listen, and or a hug.

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