Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When We Are Grieving

I got this off a friend's facebook note...

HOW YOU CAN HELP ME - author 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 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.

Please don't tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start dating again. I'm not ready. And maybe I don't want to. 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, 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.

2 comments:

belinda said...

I remember when my husband was killed in 1989. I've never been a thin person, but I gained 75 lbs. When I finally begged for help, the response I got was "we thought you were doing so well." I think people would've been worried if I'd lost 75 lbs. People grieve in different ways. Also, don't tell a kid (my 11-yr. old son) that he's the "man of the house." No, he's not. There is no man of the house anymore. This is way too much of a responsibility to put on a child. Sadly, I was the only adult left in the house.

FeedingYourMind said...

Belinda: Thank you so much for what you shared. I believe you have brought up some GREAT points.

First, I think you are exactly right when you say "people would've been worried if I'd lost 75 lbs." Yep. I think the thing with when we gain weight is no one wants to comment on it. I think we are typically as quick to notice when we or others gain weight rather rapidly, but none of us want to acknowledge it and express the worry that we would had it been the same weight amount that was lost.

Isn't it interesting how often we feel others are hurting or in need and we wait for them to say something or to ask for help?

To often we worry about burdening others, when in actuality, I think we'd be helping more than we think by TAKING action, rather than expecting them to ask for it.

As for the "man of the house" I can admit I've been guilty of saying that to young men before, but at the same time when I say it I think to myself how weird it seems to be calling someone so young a "man"...you're right, they are no more a man at that age then, as they were before the passing occurred...why should that have changed?

Your shortest sentence in your comment is what is the most important for us all to remember when considering grieving..."People grieve in different ways." Amen.