If You Know Someone Who’s Grieving

December 8, 2015 at 4:26 PM 5 comments

12-2-14

It’s going on five months since my dear Dan died.  The five month anniversary will be December 25.

One of the most educational experiences of my journey through grief thus far has been to realize how utterly unprepared we are to talk about death, dying and the grieving process that follows. Death happens to all of us and almost everyone of a certain age (say, 50?) has had someone close to them die.  That has been so since the beginning of time.  It’s really something that our society or even our species hasn’t developed some sort of wisdom that’s passed down through the ages regarding how to be with someone who is experiencing grief.  After all, again, almost every human being has experienced it and obviously, every human being will die.  It is the one certainty we all share.  We should be good at this.  But we aren’t.

Here’s a brief tip – and I don’t think it applies just to the holidays – we can tuck into a corner of our brain to use when needed. It comes from the blog, Widower’s Grief:

For friends who are grieving, the best gift you can give is to not insist that they be happy.

They can’t set their grief aside just because it’s the holidays. But you can invite them to your party, and allow them to sit on the side, enjoy the music and the banter of conversations without taking part, and leave when they need to go.

The gift of the holidays is compassion. No special wrapping required.

And if you know someone who’s grieving, call them.  Call them twice a week.  For a year.  See if they’ll let you do their shopping or take their dog for a walk or vacuum. The grieving person is exhausted because grieving is exhausting.  Little chores take a tremendous amount of energy.

Sit and visit.  Often.  For a year.  Let them talk.  Their grief will change.  They need someone to talk to during all its stages.  Don’t stop paying attention after a month or two.

You might think oh, they’ve got lots of friends, I don’t want to bother them.  Well, you’d be surprised.  Chances are their “lots of friends” are people who don’t know what to do or say so in reality, your grieving friend might only have one or two people who do know what do, who are paying attention and/or who have experienced deep grief themselves.  Maybe none of their friends know what to say or do.  Maybe they’re all alone save for a support group they joined that meets once a month or something.

Bear that little ditty in mind and don’t try to make a friend’s grief “go away.”  Nobody and no thing can cause that to happen.  Grief is a thing that has to be walked right smack through the middle of, and friends who are simply with you make all the difference.

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Entry filed under: Musings.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. George Shaw  |  December 8, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    I am so sorry. You are correct; that doesn’t relieve your grief, but I hope it lets you know that someone understands.

  • 2. Say It Ain't So Already  |  December 8, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    Thank you George. All in all, I think I’m doing pretty well but it will take a long time before I don’t essentially think of Dan all. The. Time. I have breaks but not long ones. They’ll stretch out eventually I guess. I like to think of grief as love. If I didn’t love Dan I wouldn’t grieve.

  • 3. Tim Truett  |  December 8, 2015 at 5:05 PM

    I’ve walked this path and thoroughly agree with what you say. May I add: You’ve done exactly the right thing ~ you’ve told people what you need. To be with you. To invite you and to include you. To visit you. May I add, try to accept what people offer; let them cook you a meal, help you shop, clean, what have you. Grief takes a hell of a lot of guts, sheer courage. And it helps when you have friends & family lending a hand. And yes, grief is indeed love.

  • 4. mhasegawa  |  December 10, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    I haven’t been following WP too closely over the last few months and I haven’t posted myself for a while. That said, I’m sorry to hear about your husband. I think I’ve mentioned to you that my best childhood friend had a similar disease and died this spring after a number of years. I still think about calling her to tell her things even though I haven’t been able to do so for a long time. Grief lingers even when you think it is gone.

  • 5. Say It Ain't So Already  |  December 10, 2015 at 7:34 PM

    Thank you.

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