Counselor: How to help a grieving friend

Be present and give them time, Ehlich says


Ava Amos

Mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich offered advice to students for dealing with grief.

Ella Bundy, Reporter

In a year that already has been tragic on so many levels, the Irish family is now dealing with the loss of senior Jonathon Knoll. Such a tragedy is even more difficult in the midst of a pandemic.

Friends of those who are grieving may fear saying or doing the wrong thing, so mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich provided her expert advice.

Ehlich said that one of the things a student shouldn’t do, she said, is “go into your own personal story of grief and loss, and you should keep away from phrases like ‘you’ll be OK,’ ‘you’ll get over it’ and anything that starts with ‘at least.’”

She also said, “Make sure that you are contacting them and reaching out. Drop off a meal, make sure that you’re checking in. A lot of people don’t want to be pitied, but they want a good and sincere person to talk to. You know what it’s like to have lost something really valuable.

“Tap into your deepest sense of empathy, put yourself in their shoes and do your best to help them with what they need. You should reflect on your own experience of loss and grief. This varies with the individual so you really need to try and connect with the person who is grieving.”

Some good things to do include “helping out for as long as they need. If they want to get back to normal, then give them that space. Normalize that it’s OK to feel sad. It pops up at random times and it takes a few years to move through grief. Give them time.”

Something else to keep in mind is that dates can be very strong triggers to people who have lost someone. Something as simple as a birthday can make them feel very sad and fall into a sea of memories, so knowing which dates are important to the person grieving can help you be there when they need you most.

Finally, Ehlich said that there are many useful resources online. One that she suggests for understanding and helping someone through grief is

Counselors will be available to assist students and teachers, but the administration has not yet announced specific plans regarding their availability.