How you can help

I've posted this once before, but with everyone visiting to help Amy, I thought this was a great thing to share again, as it was so helpful for me (and still is!):

"How You Can Help Me"
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 our children, 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 him 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. When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and alone. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don't make it worse by telling me I'm not doing this right. And remember, I was a capable adult before his death and I still am.

Please don't tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start dating again. I may not be ready. And maybe I don't want to be. And besides, what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren't. Whoever comes after will always be someone different.

I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your life." My life is going on, I've been forced to take on many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.

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, our wedding anniversary, 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 say 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 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.

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.

--Author Unknown


Denise said...

I love this article, and loved it the first time you posted it. It has helped me help others who are grieving. Thank you for opening your heart to us!

Steve & Jackie Means said...

Thank you for all that you are doing for Amy & Jim and their families. My husband was a college friend of Jim's and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. We also experienced a sudden loss of a very close friend in 2009and still feel his absence every day. Thank you too for this post reminding us how we can help - we will continue to check your blog and Amy's FB page to support her however possible.

krystn said...

Thank you for this today. My niece lost her fiance and the father of her two young boys on Monday. I've been sitting here feeling helpless. I do care. And I am sad thinking of her broken heart and dreams.

krystn said...

Thank you for this today. My niece lost her fiancé and the father of her two young boys on Monday. I've been sitting here feeling helpless. I do care. It makes me sad to think about her broken heart and broken dreams.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! As someone who has been the lost "helper" to the grieving, this is exactly what my hurting loved one needed. I was thankful to be there the first week, to just sit and let her be . . . whatever she needed to be. I was so much more thankful God surrounded her with loving friends that could be there when distant prevented me from just showing up to sit with her. This is a great article to help those who want to help and don't know how.

melissa widmeyer said...

This is such a good way to explain grief ..absolutely love your blogs.

Melrose said...

Hi Veronica, I wanted to tell you how much comfort your blog brings me. I have not lost my husband and have commented here a few times in the past, but I lost my Dad and sole guardian when I was 17. It's been 11 years now somehow but last night, the anniversary of his crash seemed like one of the worst years yet for me. I finally wrote out the story on my blog (www.thedarknessdeepens.blogspot.com) to process it all but I always come here for more comfort. Thanks for writing.

Julia Arambula said...

This description of how to help someone who is grieving is so very well-written. I very much appreciate the suggestions and "to-do's" as well as the "do-not-do's". I hope that I can find this entry again someday when I need it again, as surely it's a reminder that would be helpful over & over again. Thank you - God bless.
-Julia Arambula (Rochester College, class of 2000)

Alys said...

This is a great article. I remember loving it the first time I found it, using your advice on more than one occasion in the last year, and directing others to this post too. Thank you for reposting! -Alys

Anonymous said...

Newtown is in need of counselors, would Steve consider providing his support to help those unfortunate parents cope with their losses?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reposting, I missed it the first time around. It sounds like good advice. I fall into the groups that always says to call if I can help. I never thought about just being there.


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