Sunday, July 11, 2010

Support & Grief

When something terrible happens - a crisis, a death, an illness - you need support from others. A friend of mine whose son had a terrible accident & almost died and also went through the painful experience of caring for her mother who died of cancer - said that she now knows what to do. I feel the same way now. I didn't used to know what to do or say or how to support others going through a crisis, tragedy, loss, etc. Now having gone through it myself with the death of my father, I know what to do. I'll be there. I'll come over. I'll give support & speak from my heart.

The day after my dad died was a holiday. Everything was closed, including the funeral home. I felt so useless. There was nothing I could do. I had to sit and wait. I cried & cried until I thought I had no tears left. I didn't know what to do. A friend came over that day to sit with me. She brought flowers and gave me a big hug. It was so good to have her over. If it weren't for her I would have been staring out in space all day, alone with my grief. She was there for me. I cannot thank her enough. It meant so much to me.

Also, kindness from strangers - I'm FB friends with the sister & mom of a boy I went to school with. I've never met them. Yet they poured their hearts out to me sharing their experiences with the loss of their father and are coming to the funeral to support me. This was completely unexpected, yet welcomed. The mom wrote me and said I probably wouldn't recognize them at the funeral, yet they'd be there with their hearts waving at me. I was so touched.

Phone calls, texts, offers to buy groceries/do laundry, even one friend I haven't seen in ages, invited me & my family up to his 15 acre ranch for the weekend. I happily took him up on his offer. It will be great to get away.

Then there are those friends you thought for sure would be there and there's only deafening silence. Disappointing. Yet, luckily the people who come out of the woodwork tip the scales to offer their support with so many pleasant surprises.

1) If you knew the deceased, share a nice memory. It gives so much comfort to the loved one who is grieving (rather than just "sorry for your loss").
2) Show up. Many ppl think they should leave the grieving person alone since they have a lot to deal with. Here's a fact: NO one wants to be alone when they're grieving. Just having a friend there to talk to helps so much.
3) Check in. Let them know you are thinking of them.
4) Share your experience. If you've lost your father - share that with a friend who experiencing the same loss.
5) Be there for the person & let the person grieve. The last thing a grieving person needs are reminders that the world is moving on so quickly after a recent death of a loved one.
6) Show genuine interest & concern. It's not a time to share the latest & greatest happening in your life, expecting the grieving person to be happy for you. You can chat about that later. It may come from a good place, yet is so inappropriate. A grieving person is overwhelmed with emotion, pain & loss. My husband referred to me as a clown "Trying to keep up the smile, but with great sadness underneath." Acknowledge the sadness.

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