As some new readers may not know, we lost my father 5 years ago last week, and my mum passed away 3 years ago last June. It was an unbelievably difficult time, compounded by many things including family dynamics, the fact that we had younger children, and that both losses were completely out of the blue. I only really mention this to give some background to this post, and to add my endorsement to the others that have linked to, or commented on the following post.
Please, if you have ever wondered how to help someone who is grieving, or even just sick or troubled, read the following. There are some amazing gems there, that I totally agree with and was never able to put into such eloquent words.
Keys that stood out to me included remembering that this is a long process and trying to be there for the long haul, not just the initial crisis of a couple of weeks. This is not something that people shake off like a virus. This will profoundly affect them and their lives forever more. Be aware of that, so you can offer support when everyone else has just gotten on with their lives.
Don’t just tell them to “Call if you need anything”…. because I never did once. I needed many things, but was too shy, or too afraid of burdening people to ask. So I didn’t. I just somehow got on with getting the job done. Make concrete offers of help. Or just turn up, tell them to put their washing in a bag because you are taking it home with you. Be proactive in finding ways to help.
Don’t expect them to grieve to plan. I had a friend come over who told me that she wasn’t leaving until I’d cried, because then I’d feel better. It was actually laughable how determined she was to be helpful in making me cry. I wasn’t ready then. I don’t cry in front of anyone if I can help it. Just be there for them. Sit with them, watch a funny movie with them if they want, or help them look through photo albums. Whatever they need right then.
It’s honestly a lot less complicated than people try to make it. Just reach out a hand, and keep it out there. Put something in that hand. Dinner, flowers, clean washing, taking the kids out for an icecream and give mum an hour on her own. Or just hold hands.
Hugs to all of us who are here, been here, or will be here.