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How to help those grieving

March 6, 2010 · 1 comment

in Commentary

It wasn’t until I was 34 that I experienced my first real loss.   I was the guardian for my grandmother when she passed, and was very close to her.  She taught me so much about life, and the end of life.  I had never met anyone before that wanted to die.  I just always thought everyone dreaded it.  However, she was 97 years old, and she was ready to go.  Her body was tired, and she was lonely.  At first I took her loneliness personally.  I thought ‘How can she be lonely?  She has me!’.  But she explained to me that most of her family had passed, her friends had passed, and she did not have any contemporaries.  Nobody could understand how she felt.  I was so grateful for those conversations because they eased my pain somewhat when her body did finally give out.  It was very peaceful.   I was emotionally prepared and had support from a lot of people, more people than I had expected.  Although her death was hard and I missed her, I knew she was at peace, and it was part of the whole life cycle.

More recently, my father passed away.   I cannot go into details regarding his death because it is still too raw.  However, I will say that I had an enormous amount of support, which helped immensely.   People attended the service that I never expected and my family was wonderful.  I feel so sad for those who experience loss without a strong network of support.

My advice to anyone that is trying to support someone who  has just experienced loss is this:  Stop by the funeral home just so the person grieving knows you are thinking about them.  Sometimes it is hard to know if you should go or not if you were not really close to either the deceased or the family of the deceased, but you can not ever go wrong with showing your support.  Err on the side of caring.  If you cannot make the service (or even if you can), send a condolence card and include a fond memory of the deceased.  I personally saved all the cards I received and I am sure that some day I will read through them again.  Also, I cannot say how much I appreciated the food that some people prepared for us the week after my dad passed.  I was so tired and sad that it was such a relief to not worry about meal planning.

Life is busy and it can be hard to put things aside to fully support someone that is going through a difficult time.  However, remember that grief is all-encompassing to the person experiencing it, so any thing you can do to help that person means the world to them.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff May 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I’ll remember that food suggestion. My husband and I haven’t suffered a personal loss yet, so I see the next 15 years as a funeral nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that we haven’t lost any of our grandparents yet. It’s just sad to know that they are all 75 or older and won’t live forever.

I’m glad you had support. I hope my husband and I can be there for our parents and each other.

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