First of all, thank you. Thank you for sending that card or showing up at the funeral, either for the service or just the viewing. Thank you for the prayers uttered on my and my family’s behalf. Thank you for offering comforting words. Please don’t worry if they were somewhat awkward. I really didn’t know what to say either, and I could feel the concern and care behind them. They were and are appreciated.
Second, I totally get that this is my loss – not yours. I get that your life – in fact all life – has to go on. The world does not stop spinning just because I have lost someone I love. I don’t expect you to halt your life because of the grief I am walking through.
But you know when you asked me what you can do? Well, I’ve been thinking about that because I didn’t really know at the time. After walking in my grief for a few weeks, I came up with a few things that do help.
- Please understand the funeral doesn’t mark the end of the grieving process. Going through the grief process can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years. The hardest part is AFTER the funeral is over.
- Please don’t assume just because you see me smile and even laugh that I’m “over it.” Grief is a process that takes a lot of twists and turns.
- Please ask me how I’m doing once in a while. I realize your life has gone on (as it should), but it’s comforting to know that you remember that I’m struggling.
- Please understand that, while I’d love to “get back to normal,” I’m not sure what that looks like anymore because my normal has irrevocably changed.
- Please don’t be upset if I have to pull back from some festivities. It isn’t personal – I promise! It’s just that certain days will be harder for me than others, particularly holidays and special dates and events.
- Please know that I care about what’s going on in your life too. But, while I really want to be there for you in your crisis, I might not have the emotional energy or reserves to do everything you need me to right now. I’m sorry. It doesn’t mean I don’t care.
- Speaking of energy, please understand when I have to pull back from all the things I normally do. I just don’t have the concentration or energy right now. Being busy can be a distraction, but it only delays working through my grief. Please allow me that space.
- Please know that your presence is mostly all I need. If you want to bring food or, better yet, dessert, I won’t object, but just having someone who cares enough to be present is enough.
- Please ask me about my brother. I really don’t mind talking about him. I want to hear your stories and good memories. Talking about him doesn’t remind me of my loss – that is with me every moment of every day.
- Please don’t be alarmed if, sometimes, I start crying for no apparent reason. Trust me, it takes me by surprise too. Just hand me a tissue and it will pass soon.
- Please don’t tell me how I should feel or mistake my sadness for a lack of faith. While I really appreciate you sharing a verse with me that is comforting to you, telling me “God is in control,” or “God knows what is best” really doesn’t help when I’m feeling sad. I know those things, and I believe them – but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Even Jesus wept when Lazarus died – and He knew He was raising Lazarus from the dead in a few minutes.
- Please know that I appreciate your friendship and kindness. One of these days, I will get to the place of a new normal, and I will always look back and remember how you came alongside me to shine a light during my darkest moments.