Friday, March 1, 2013

grief, part ii: how to help.

{photo by Lindsey Pemberton}

I think a lot of people feel crippled in times of need and grief. They aren't sure how to act or respond to those who are hurting, and I get that. I feel that way too, as if what I have to offer could never be enough. 

It won't. 

Once we get that out of the way, I think we're able to help a little more. Once we realize we can't save someone, can't be their entire source of comfort and relief, we free ourselves to do what we can. Maybe that's a card. (People still like snail mail, you guys.) Maybe it's flowers. Maybe it's an email. Maybe it's a meal. 

But for the love: Do something.

That's what I've learned in adulthood. Something, I think, is better than nothing. Some of my friends handle grief better than others. Many of them handle it better than I, but all the while they're teaching me how to be better. I pay attention to what they offer, and hopefully, when it's my turn to comfort, I'll remember the lessons they unknowingly taught me.

I think some of us are naturally more self-centered than others. We know someone's grieving, but we forget, because our roof is leaking, or work has piled up, or our bills need to be paid. Our own needs, for better or worse, overshadow the needs of others, and we think after time has passed, our help is no longer needed. 

Trust me: Your help is always needed. 

One of Jordan's coworkers shared that he thinks we often treat grief like we treat a new baby. When new life comes into this world, we all get excited, and we buy onesies and bring gifts and shower the family with meals for their freezer. But after a few weeks, a month, our focus has shifted. The baby has outgrown its newborn onesies, and the meals are gone. The thing is, the mom still needs support. The family still needs love, attention, food, a friend to come do the laundry. The support is needed, but it's not there.

Grief can be the same way.

In the days following a funeral, the masses come out of the woodwork, and we are grateful. But in a few weeks, the condolences will end. Life will have returned to "normal," but we'll still have traces of fog. Support will still be needed.

If grief or loss or brokenness has hit someone you love, and you're unsure of what to do, please: just do. 

Make the meal. Mail the card. Show grace when emails go unanswered or phone calls unreturned.

I'm fairly confident grief is one of those things you can't really understand until you experience it yourself. Not everyone understands or can handle the grieving process.

But everyone can mail a card. Anyone can drop off flowers or a magazine or a candle or a book. Help doesn't have to be complicated or over-the-top. It can be simple. 

And believe me. It is always appreciated.


Sabrina said...

Another beautiful and thought provoking post!!!

Ashley said...

Thank you for the reminder.