Things that Help

There are so many books, blogs, and other resources on the topic of grief.  I have yet to find anything that speaks to how to help those who are grieving.  Especially when the inital time frame has passed and so many have gone back to life while the one holding the grief begins to navigate the deep waters of sorrow on their own.  Yes, grief is so very personal.  And yes, everyone experiences it in a unique way. But I thought it just might be helpful for me to write down those things that I have found to be helpful.  I will continue to update this list as time goes on. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or perhaps you have supported someone in grief in a way that I have not mentioned below and may be of help to someone else.

  • Very soon after Mike died, I asked friends to repaint the room where Mike and I spent much of our time. It was to become my new bedroom for now.  I had seen a beautiful calm pale green/blue for the walls, the color of Bermuda waters. Within a few days, the room was completely made over with new linens, window coverings, and a new headboard.  These women did such an amazing  job. And then someone sent me an incredibly soft throw blanket that matched the walls perfectly.  Everything in the room is now soft and geared towards comfort and I do my best to keep it free from chaos and clutter.  I retreat there often when the afternoon sun streams in and makes it warm and inviting.
  • Relationships are awkward.  Everyone misses Mike.  There are no perfect words to ease my grief.  It is made that much harder when others say nothing.  Take the risk. Mention Mike’s name.  Dare to tell me that you miss him.  Take courage and say what you miss about him. Your tears comfort me. They do not scare me.  God knows I have shed enough of my own. He continues to count each one; that is how intimately involved He is in my sadness.
  • Please do not give me too much “space”. When everyone gives me space, the space becomes very large and empty. It is easy for me to feel like others have forgotten about Mike.  Forgotten about me. I know in my head that is not the case at all but in those quiet moments, my mind is quite convincing otherwise.  I greatly appreciate the notes, emails, and texts that you send. Just to let me know you are thinking of me and praying for me. They help fill the space and remind me that you are still with me.
  • My capacity for socializing is quite limited so I might not take you up on an invitation to head out into the world.  But then again, I just might.  It depends on the day…and sometimes on the moment in that day. I am learning how to know what I am able to do and how to verbalize that in a gracious way.
  • It is not easy for me to be decisive. It puts a lot of pressure on me to decide what to do, where to go, what I’d like, etc. If you provide a couple of options it is very helpful.  I know you so desperately want to help but asking “what do you want to do” poses a difficult question. To be honest,  I want to be beyond this grief. That is what I really want to do. But that is not possible and has nothing to do with meeting for lunch or going for a walk.
  • Affirmation is important during this season of life.  Losing my spouse means I have lost a part of myself.  Mike and I worked at our marriage…the whole “two become one” part of God’s plan for marriage.  While we maintained our unique sense of self, we also shared a great deal of ourselves with one another.  So I am now asking God to show me who He created me to be…what unique gifts and talents has He given to me. Your insights are helpful.
  • It is vital for me to have a small group of friends and family who have the courage to enter into the darkest days of grief. I need to know that I can vent my feelings, frustrations, and fears without judgment. Jesus hears them daily and now I can take those brutally honest moments to others as well.  What a gift.
  • Please do not take anything personally that I may do or say.  Honestly, my brain just does not work some of the time. As a matter of fact sometimes it just goes blank. Or will completely jump tracks. I look forward to the day when I have more clarity of thought.
  • It takes me a long time to accomplish tasks.  It is frustrating but true that I am still working on expressing written thanks to all those who supported us through this time.  I don’t know why but writing a simple thank you note takes me about an hour.  Be patient when I have a task that needs to be done. Don’t be afraid to send me a reminder of something on my “to do” list that has not been accomplished yet. I appreciate it and need it.
  • I continue to have a couple of wonderful people helping me with all things financial. Because it is hard to think straight at times, I do not want to make any mistakes with my finances. They give sound guidance which helps me to rest in the decisions that I have to make.
  • I love my dog.  He goes with me everywhere.  And so does his fur. He is great company – if I could use words to describe him they would include kind, sensitive, loyal, fun, and patient.  In general, he stays available for those times when I need someone by my side and he is all too happy to be there. God’s creatures can be a source of great comfort. Red2
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11 thoughts on “Things that Help

  1. Lisa Maloney says:

    Patty,

    Thank you for sharing, you have offered such great advice to all who are struggling with how to help someone who is grieving.

  2. Tracey says:

    As the friend of someone who recently lost her husband at a young age, I appreciate your blog (which she shared with me) for the insight on how she most certainly is feeling. Though I feel at an utter loss, most of the time, in helping her to cope with her tremendous grief, I continue to let her know I am there. Your thoughts hit home on many levels. Thank you.

    • padoo5 says:

      Tracey – I am so thankful to know that this post has been helpful. My heart goes out to your friend…and to you as you learn to walk with her throug her grief. What a wonderful friend you are…

  3. Susan says:

    thinking of you ….

  4. Aunt peg says:

    You know, patty….your blogs, and more recently this one, provide an unbelievable amount of “something”….wishing i had the word(s)……but because you are so genuine and honest with your life and feelings,it makes it that much better for ME to take that walk with you in this life now…to know YOUR needs and what you are thinking a about, how you feel at certain times and maybe why you are who you are…..you are doing some tremendously wonderful things with all of is……..I’m glad you know that you are so very special and loved…..(by the way, how MUCH fur you talkin about?? My house can handle it!!!). Love you much..

  5. Susan Bever says:

    It is obvious God is gifting you to write and share words that will be a help to many other people.
    I keep praying for provision for all you need; and a special light and surprise that reminds you of God’s unique love for you daily….
    Love, Susan

  6. Marlene says:

    i do not beleive there is a time frame for this grief,at least not for me, I will carry this for the rest of my life, mostly good memories as well as loss of a precious son.I am so happy you have Red, that is a beautiful story in that he did not leave your porch, just outwaited you and Mike to invilte him in.

    • padoo5 says:

      How many times have we looked at Red and wondered where he came from…and why he chose our porch to land on?! Now we know! What a gift. There is comfort in knowing we share a similar grief. And we share some wonderful memories in the midst of the trials – who would have thought we’d enjoy baseball so much?! Love you.

  7. Lisa says:

    Oh Patty, I think of you each morning as I awake and how hard it must be for you. I miss my brother so much. I did not see him everyday like you, but he meant so much to me. I feel like everyone has gone on without me. So I understand how you must feel.
    Please remember I am always just a phone call away. Anytime. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I admire your courage and your faith.

    • padoo5 says:

      Thank you Lisa. Mike cared for you deeply. I urge you to continue to get to know the God he served and loved. We are on this journey together! Love you.

  8. Susan Ennis says:

    Patty, The second bullet point that you listed in your post is very important. The more often that your friends and relatives talk about Mike with you and with the girls is the best gift for all of you. I know this from experience. I have a close college friend who lost her husband 20 years ago when the kids where 1 and 2. I asked her in one moment “What is something that I can do for the kids” and I took her answer to heart and have been doing it for 20 years – she wanted me to tell stories – memories of her husband with her and with the kids. She felt like you do, as written above. Now the “kids” are 21 and 22; for years they have asked me, “Tell me about the time when Dad…..” Here is the key: EACH TIME that I told a story about him, it eased the grief of my friend and her kids just a little. It was uncomfortable at first, but I got better at telling memory-stories and they got better at hearing them. I encourage YOUR circle of loving people to do the same for you and the girls. It is a precious gift to do so. I also believe that talking about Mike and his life and times is a special way to honor his journey through life!

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