Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to help

This week, came so fast. This week, they were supposed to get married.

Once right after it happened, someone told me not to do something because it would make her sad. Grief sucks. Loosing someone sucks but people want to tiptoe over it all the time. It happened and everything makes her sad, but not acknowledging it was like not acknowledging his memory.

About a month ago, my friend said that people react to grief like it is contagious. Like it's not something you should talk about but really talking about him makes her feel better, makes us feel better. Not talking about him is making it seem like he never existed. So, we talk about him all the time. We laugh at happy memories, and a lot of the time it makes us sad.

All people react to grief differently. Just be there-to listen, to laugh, to cry. It didn't just help my friend, but my husband, myself.

A friend sent this to me right after it all happened. She found it on a blog she read and I wish I could give credit to who wrote it but it is so well written, and in a way validates what I just said. If anything I can give to you out of all of this is a way to help someone you love. Don't tiptoe. Please, don't tiptoe.

Someone I love said it so perfectly; 'talking about him makes me feel better, makes me remember, makes me feel close to him again.'

HOW YOU CAN HELP ME (Writer unknown)
Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don't abandon me with the excuse that you don't want to upset me. You can't catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."

Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I feel only if you really have time to find out.

I am not strong. I'm just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel that you don't see me.

I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm grieving and that's different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after my loved one's death. Don't think that I will be over it in a year. For I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for watching our children and grandchildren grow, the places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember his with joy and other times with a tear. Both are okay.

I don't have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable.

I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your hugs. I need you just to be with me, and I need to be with you. I need to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.

Please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I'll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have.

So, in advance, let me give you some ideas:
(a) Bring food or a movie over to watch together.
(b) Send me a card on special holidays, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on this difficult day.
(c) Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may so no at first or even for a while, but please don't give up on me because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you've given up then I really will be alone.
(d) Understand how difficult it is for me to be surrounded by couples, to walk into events alone, to go home alone, to feel out of place in the same situations where I used to feel so comfortable.

Please don't judge me now - or think that I'm behaving strangely. Remember I'm grieving. I may even be in shock. I am afraid. I may feel deep rage. I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt. I'm experiencing a pain unlike any I've ever felt before and one that can't be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes.

Don't worry if you think I'm getting better and then suddenly I seem to slip backward. Grief makes me behave this way at times. And please don't tell me you know how I feel, or that it's time for me to get on with my life. What I need now is time to grieve.

Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding.

Thank you for praying for me.

And remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss - when you need me as I have needed you - I will understand. And then I will come and be with you.


LC said...

Oh Amy. I am so sorry :( I know this is a difficult time...again. But I love the idea of talking about him. He is someone that you don't want to forget so talking about him and your feelings is important. Sending prayers to your friend, you, and Blake.

Anonymous said...

i just stumbled upon your blog today and i have to commend you for posting this... i think this is such an important thing for people to be aware of (myself included). I am so sorry for your loss... i can't imagine the pain you must all be feeling - especially today.

sanjeet said...

I love the idea of talking about him.
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katherinemary said...

That is beautifully written. I am sure this weekend was hard. I hope your family and friends are doing okay. :)

Mary said...

This weekend must have been intensely difficult for you, Blake, and all your friends. You are obviously very in touch with how to support your friend and it sounds like you all have a good support system for each other. What you wrote resonated with me for obvious reasons. It was so touching when people at school I knew only peripherally took the time to come up to me and just express their condolences, while people I talked to daily said nothing. It does get easier, I promise.

Maria said...

Amy, thank you so much for sharing this! It really speaks to the reality of death.

My heart breaks for all of you, and I will keep you in my prayers.

Amanda said...

Amy, thank you for sharing. I had chills throughout reading it.

My thoughts & prayers are with you all.

N. said...

Thank you for sharing that. It was beautiful. And I am so sorry for the hard time you all are going through.