A couple of days ago, I was reading a post on Facebook from an excellent friend who was talking about losing the love of her life. She spoke of better days and how she didn’t hurt years ago, and now she lives with lots of pain, and she longs for the day that she’ll see her husband again. She spoke about the agony of not being there for the people she loves while fighting her own battles of pain and depression. She mentioned how lonely she gets because she doesn’t feel like going out or doing anything. She’s no longer active on the phone, nor is she engaged in her social life. Her visits are few and far between, and she takes the time to read about everything around her. She isn’t alone because so many people are dealing with the same types of scenarios. But she doesn’t want to get out and have fun; she doesn’t want to be around people except those closest to her for many different reasons, and I can’t blame her.
When most of us lose loved ones, grief hits hard. Sometimes the sorrow happens quickly, and for others, it draws itself out over time. I can’t tell you how many days I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to my Dad again. This world can get so crazy at times, and Dad always had a way of calming me down. He’d break things down in a way that I could understand, and we’d talk for long periods. Dad was a history buff. Much more so than I am. I like history if it’s haunted history, but Dad loved World and American History. When I’d get stumped with assignments, he was my go-to source to help me make sense of what I was learning.
My parents took a trip to England, and Dad was in heaven with all the history surrounding him. They brought back a photo from outside one of the shops, and it looked like there was a ghost in the picture. That picture got my attention, and when I mentioned it to Dad, he agreed that it looked like a woman dressed from the 18th century. I don’t know where I put that photo because I’d post it if I could find it. Perhaps one day, I will do that when I stumble across it. In the meantime, those memories helped me see my father before cancer overtook him.
Somewhere along the way, I found the strength to talk to others about issues that no one wants to discuss. At times, it’s a blessing and a curse. What I see isn’t always right, and admitting that I don’t know everything can feel vulnerable and humiliating. But I do know that when someone we love dies, there’s a part of us that dies with them. Sometimes that pain doesn’t show itself to others because many of us keep it bottled up inside. We don’t want others to see us cry or find us at our weakest moment. We don’t want sympathy or those looks of “What can I say to make it better?.” Dealing with the loss of someone we love is different for each of us. While researching, I found some helpful tips that might help you know how to help someone else deal with loss.
- Just reach out. Look. People who deal with grief have a lot on their plates. They may feel overwhelmed and not know which direction they are going. Reach out and let them know you are there. You don’t have to solve their problems; the chances are high that you can’t, but you can let someone know that you’ve got their back, and that act is priceless.
- Then, judge their reaction. If that person is receptive, you can engage more in conversation about whatever they feel comfortable with, but if they aren’t, back off. Please give them the space they need.
- Find your way to express your love. My friends let me deal with grief in my way, but they would take me out for a meal or treat me to a spa day. No matter what, they did little things to let me know I wasn’t alone, and I matter. That’s all anyone can ask because we all need to feel like we belong and that we are important to those around us.
- Listen. This act is one of the hardest things to do. When our minds have more on them than they should, it’s hard to focus and listen to what someone tells us. Find ways to listen because words are only part of how we communicate. You can listen to someone’s actions, tone of voice, and expressions and learn a lot.
- Acknowledge just how bad it really is. I didn’t particularly appreciate it when people told me that things were going to be ok. They weren’t, and I knew it, and I know people were friendly and thought they were helpful. It’s one of the most irritating things people deal with because we automatically hear that everything will be alright when the reality is it might be, but it won’t be for a while. Be honest that a situation bites, and there will be tough days ahead. Let that person know they will get through this, and they aren’t alone. Please don’t compare your situations unless it’s relevant, but be the shoulder they need.
- Offer to connect them to people going through something similar, if you do know anyone. I have people in my life who have been through similar circumstances, and they were and are a huge blessing for me. Not everyone has that option. If you don’t know people going through something similar, perhaps you can help them research support groups or programs that might help them with their grief.
- Prepare for the worst.Life isn’t a guarantee. There will always be days where those we love won’t live to see another day. We may be one that won’t. No one knows for sure how long their time on earth will be. Psychologically I prepared myself for the worst with Dad’s diagnosis, but that doesn’t change how much pain I felt when he died. No matter how much you prepare both legally and psychologically, a loss is something that makes us feel like the world will never be the same. In some ways, it won’t, but sometimes the loss of someone we love opens up areas in our lives that we never dared to explore before, and now we can.
Loss and grief are something that most people don’t enjoy. We carry memories and emotions with us that find ways of incorporating memories into the things we do. But when we use that loss to propel us to open ourselves up to deal with our emotions, we begin to heal. And healing may not always be enjoyable, but it’s one of the most excellent teachers we will ever encounter because we learn about ourselves and our strengths. We learn to live in the moment and never take each other for granted. And finally, we experience different levels of peace. Because at the end of the day, peace is one of the greatest portals we use. Learning from loved ones that pass creates opportunities we never thought possible. Have a great day, everyone.