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Just yesterday I found out my friend’s father passed away a few days ago. Having already lost her mother a few years ago, she is going through a very hard and lonely time. She’s young in her early thirties and I somehow feel that she’s been given a wonderful gift that soon she will be able to use, because God wouldn’t put her through all this if he didn’t have a very special purpose for her.
At this big time of need, certain things come up in my mind of how I would love to help her. Being that I have lost a father when I was 5 and a step father to cancer when I was 18, I think I have some experiences that can help others with the grieving situation.
Here are some ideas for helping someone you may know who is grieving a precious loss:
One of the most annoying things I have been told while grieving is, “I know how you feel… I’ve lost my…”. But noone really knows how someone grieving feels because we all have unique relationships with whom we have lost. We all express emotion and go through thr grieving experience in different ways. When you become depressed over it, your loss is special, not easily compared to anyone else’s. Respect that. Instead of trying to talking someone out of sadness, just listen. And if at times your conversations become silent…let it be. Silence can be all they need sometimes. Just be there to listen and offer any words if asked. Remind them how you have no idea how they must be feeling but that they will be ok and you’ll be there for them every step of the way.
Do you ever notice why people recieve so many fruit baskets and food while they are grieving? Grieving causes elements of depression and when you are depressed you may forget to eat or lose your appetite. Fruit baskets are a great way to help remind them to eat and nurture themselves. Even though it may seem cliche, fruit baskets, home baked cookies or a favorite comfort food is a very meaningful gift and gesture to give a grieving friend.
3. Be specific with your help
Usually people will approach a grieving friend by offering, “Is there anything I can do to help?” or “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help?”. Now…someone who is going through an awful time in their life usually isn’t popping up with ideas on how you can help them. They probably have a hard enough time trying to think straight, nevermind answering your questions.
So instead, maybe offer, “Can I come by to drop off some groceries” or “let me take this load of laundry for you”. Wash their dishes and whenever possible, just “do”. Don’t “ask”. If you think there is something they need, odds are they probably need it. Pick it up for them or drop it off. It will mean alot more if your doing things, than just verbally offering.
4. Don’t be afraid to talk about “it”
Even though it may seem painful or the last thing you want to focus on, don’t be afraid to talk about the person they’re grieving over. Talking about things happening in our lives is healthy and if you make pretend it’s not happening, you are pushing that memory into a far away place that will only cause more emotional and mental harm than good. Embrace the loss and embrace the special soul of whom is no longer here but will be watching over.
5. Don’t push it.
One thing I noticed myself doing to my mom while she was grieving over my step father…was that I was trying to push her to feel better and stop being sad. I would surprise her with a full cooked dinner after she got home from work and I would make it seem like a happy time. But she couldn’t even fake a smile, she had no appetite and I felt like a failure. I would try to crack jokes and make her watch funny tv shows… I couldn’t stand to see her so sad any longer. But after a few months she started smiling again and we were getting back to a new, healthy normal.
Sometimes grieving takes a bit of time, you can’t take shortcuts or control someone’s emotions or feelings. It has to happen naturally.
One word of advice my mother always tells me when I ask her how she could be so strong and be such a good and happy person after having lost two husbands…. It goes something like this “Sometimes it’s other people’s time to go and even though it doesn’t seem right or fair, you have to know that you’re still here. As long as you’re still here, you have to keep living your life the best way you know how, because one day your time will come too. Then you can reunite with the ones you love.”