Letting your friend express her grief to you will help her mourn the loss of her parent.

How to Comfort a Friend Who Lost a Parent

by Kristen Moutria

If your friend has recently lost a parent, she is likely experiencing overwhelming emotions and may well need additional support. Even if her parent had been ailing for a long time and the death was not a surprise, the reality of his passing is still a source of great grief and sadness. Author and psychotherapist Alexandra Kennedy reports in her book "Losing a Parent" that the death of a parent is a shattering experience that floods the child -- even the adult child -- with powerful emotions. Knowing how to offer comfort to your grieving friend will give you the confidence you need to approach her.

1. Acknowledge the Event's Significance

Acknowledging the significance of what your friend is experiencing will help her feel that her emotions are normal and valid. Kennedy says that losing a parent shakes the foundation of your life and it is natural to feel vulnerable, raw and alone in the aftermath. Instead of allowing your friend to feel alone in her concerns, comfort her and make sure she knows that what she is experiencing is significant, and that strong emotions are to be expected.

2. Ask What She Needs

Simply asking your friend if she needs anything is one hands-on way to show support as she grieves the loss of her parent. Author Liz Pryor suggests on "ABC News" that you may offer to clean the house, give her a hug, or simply leave her alone. Her desires may be different than what you would expect, so making sure to cater to her needs will help her cope with the grief she is experiencing.

3. Encourage Forgiveness for Unresolved Issues

Although this is not always the case, your friend may be struggling with feelings of guilt due to a troubled relationship with her deceased parent. She might be focusing on harsh words that were spoken, actions she regrets or moments she wishes she could take back. Author Judy Ball advises you to encourage her that it is okay to be human, and that it is all too easy to feel guilty in the uneasiness that comes with the loss of a parent.

4. Treasure the Memories

Taking time to treasure the good memories of your friend's parent will encourage her during the challenges of her grief. Psychologist Alan D. Wolfelt from The Center for Loss in Colorado reports on "Grief Speaks" that although the parent may no longer be physically present, he continues to live on in spirit and through memories. When your friend feels emotionally ready, help her assemble a photo album of all the treasured moments she shared with her parent. This will help bring closure to her loss and inspire her to remember the good times.

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