Comforting Someone After the Loss of a Parent

May 4, 2011 7:33pm

Dear Liz, How do you comfort someone who has lost their mom in the last year? My significant other and her mother were like best friends. … She is so torn and has some very bad days. Is there any advice of what maybe to do or say to her? I comfort her and tell her I love her but she still has a lot of trouble. Her mother passed on July 18, 2010. I'd appreciate and help you could give me. Thank you, Cindy.

-Pennsacola, Fla.


Hi Cindy- What a thoughtful loving letter.  Standing by a person who is experiencing a loss as significant as this has to be in the top three most underrated, un-discussed experiences in existence.   There are few things  more painful than watching someone you love in the kind of pain a loss this size can bring.  So I am sorry for both of you…truly.

The first thing I would say is that you want to make sure that whatever your friend is going though you let her know that you support her.  It is a roller coaster of emotions that take over for her, and remember that is how it is supposed to be. It’s important also that you understand the stages of grief so that you can support her in ways that will be effective.  I would highly recommend checking into getting a couple of books to guide you both through.  If she isn’t open to it, read them on your own.  I would highly recommend a specific book that has helped so many women including myself through a loss this size: “Motherless Daughters,” by Hope Edelman.  I think the book could lend a sense of commiseration to your friend that she may be yearning about now.  

Losing a mom is something that takes over a person in an unusual way. Almost as though you want to say to everyone, “you don’t know till you’ve experienced it”  this book will bring her comfort and could shed some interesting light on things for you.


As far as regular hands-on advice, here is what I think.  Ask her in a way you haven’t before, what can you do to help her?  Leave her alone?  Hug her? Clean the house?  See if she can think of anything,  and if it doesn’t go so well, try asking her about her mom.  Ask about the times you weren’t there to see, when she was little, when she was in high school, whenever, just ask. Often talking about the lost loved one makes the person feel connected.  Look carefully and find ways to ease the pain, they are there.  And lastly, remember that time is the greatest friend of loss. 

Everyone is different, but eventually she will find her way back to normalcy as you two once knew.  Her whole infrastructure is shattered momentarily, but she will find herself and her strength just give her time, and surrender that there is little you can do and that’s okay.   Keep the faith, and remember patience is a virtue.  You know, they say that loving someone when things are good is one thing, and finding a way to love someone when things are tough, that is what the meaning of love really is. Great things for you Cindy- Liz 


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