How do you help a grieving friend?

I just don’t know. Everyone is different.

What I do know is that my friends and family were and are amazing.

No one knows what a friend will need in deep grief. Each day is a mystery, even to the grieving. There is no solace to be had in the words of others. Solace is something only found by the one who is grieving, and often it is fleeting. But, friends can sit and listen. It has been in those times, when people sat and listened to my thoughts, that I have been able to come to understand the whirlwind of emotions I have been feeling. With that understanding have I been able to know some peace.

In the early days of my grief, my friends would come and sit with me. They would wait for me to speak. They would weep with me.

In the stillness, their hearts seemed to say,

“My world has stopped spinning with yours.”

 

Isn’t it curious how the world stops spinning with the birth of your child and also with the death of your child? I wish I didn’t know the latter.

My friends would ask what they could do for me.

Their offers were genuine. Their offers were appreciated. They understood that their actions couldn’t fix what had happened, but their actions could lessen the load I was bearing by taking some of my responsibilities. They gave me time to grieve, and that was an immeasurable gift. I knew they would not have been offended if I had turned away help, for they told me it was not about them…it was about my family and me. I was so broken, and for the first time in my life, I knew it was OK to lean on others for support, with no expectation of reciprocation.

In the early days, normal things seemed impossible to do.

The meals brought to us ensured my family wouldn’t starve while I felt detached from my body and all I had known. I greatly appreciated those who shopped for the items we needed because I didn’t think I could make it through a store without breaking down, and I felt as though everyone would stare at me wondering, “What’s her problem?” even if I wasn’t crying. It was also difficult for me to go to a store where my last memory was of him there with me. It is so painful to step into a room and see your baby everywhere, and nowhere all at once.

My children’s pediatrician would call me every other day.

She would say, “I want to ask how you’re doing, but I know the answer, and I can’t even imagine. What can I do for you?” I appreciated her heartfelt question and how she rejected the trite inquiry of my feelings. Even today, when the receptionist called to confirm my daughter’s well check visit, he asked, “Is there anything we can do for you today?” because they know our first appointment back to the doctor will be difficult.

As time passes…

Even though words cannot fix the tragedy, every time someone shares his or her compassion, my shattered heart heals a little, and I know I am not alone in my sadness.  Now that my little man has been gone from my life for three and a half months, I so appreciate it when people talk about him, when they tell me they are still thinking of me. I know it is still early, but I never want him to be forgotten. I love talking about him. I may cry, but I’m not upset to be crying when I talk about him.

I hope that in the future people will continue to be comfortable with my grief, for it will last a lifetime.

How could it not?

It hurts to be separated from one so deeply loved.

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