Friday, June 13, 2014

How You Can Help Me

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Written by Dr. Virgina A. Simpson in “What Grieving People Want You
To Know.”

How you can help me

Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more

comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk

about him, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get

comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know

when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You

can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid

to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I

most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just come

over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, “I’m sorry.” You

can even say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and want you

to know that.”

Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I

feel only if you really have time to find out.

I am not strong. I’m just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel

that you don’t see me.

I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I’m not sick. I’m

grieving and that’s different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after

my loved one’s death. Don’t think that I will be over it in a year. For

I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was

with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for watching our

children and grandchildren grow, the places we will never get to go together, and the

hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled

and I will never be the same.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my

loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and

love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be,

and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with a tear.

Both are okay.

I don’t have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has

happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just

not acceptable.

When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and

alone. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don’t

make it worse by telling me I’m not doing this right.

Please don’t tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start

dating again. I’m not ready. And maybe I don’t want to. And besides,

what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren’t. Whoever comes

after will always be someone different.

I don’t even understand what you mean when you say, “You’ve got to get

on with your life.” My life is going on, I’ve been forced to take on

many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think

it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So

please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and

support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget

and there will always be times that I cry.

I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your

hugs. I need you just to be with me, and I need to be with you. I need

to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in

my own way, and in my own time.

Please don’t say, “Call me if you need anything.” I’ll never call you

because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could

do for me takes more energy than I have. So, in advance, let me give you

some ideas:

(a) Bring food or a movie over to watch together.

(b) Send me a card on special holidays, his birthday, and the

anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can’t

make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the

opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach

out on this difficult day.

(c) Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I

may so no at first or even for a while, but please don’t give up on me

because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you’ve given up

then I really will be alone.

(d) Understand how difficult it is for me to be surrounded by couples,

to walk into events alone, to go home alone, to feel out of place in the same situations

where I used to feel so comfortable.

Please don’t judge me now – or think that I’m behaving strangely.

Remember I’m grieving. I may even be in shock. I am afraid. I may feel

deep rage. I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt. I’m

experiencing a pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before and one that can’t

be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes.

Don’t worry if you think I’m getting better and then suddenly I seem to

slip backward. Grief makes me behave this way at times. And please don’t

tell me you know how I feel, or that it’s time for me to get on with my

life. What I need now is time to grieve.

Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding. Thank

you for praying for me.

And remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss – when you need

me as I have needed you – I will understand. And then I will come and be

with you.


Robin said...

Beautiful and VERY TRUE words. I does anyone who has lost a loved one.

I wish we lived we could go out to a movie, take turns cooking dinner, having a glass of wine...crying and laughing too.

I am always here for you.. always..


♥ Robin ♥

Pamela Smallcomb said...

These are brilliant words to be remembered. I think we all get caught up in the "I don't know what to say" bubble. I think of you often, Deb. Like Robin, I wish I was closer. Love & hugs.

Snap said...



Jan said...

What true and poignant words, they ought to be handed out to people. I wish there was something more I could do for you but here is what I can do: (big virtual hug)

audrey said...

How nice to see these words in print. It is SO true that people tend to shy away from speaking of the loved one who is gone from this world, for fear of causing mental anguish for their partner, their parent, their child. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want to talk about our loved ones who are gone ~ they were real, they were such a big part of our life. And, Deb, you are right. You will grieve for Gary forever, and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, for us humans, death is a very uncomfortable matter and we don't all know how to handle it.
You were such a beautiful couple in so many ways. I wish I could have known you both along the way.
Thank you for posting this, Deb. It may be helpful to many.
Love you. xo

Thoughts for the day said...

This is so powerful.
Thank you for this list and reminder that those who are in grief need time, need space but not too much, need affirmation and companionship.
Praying for you.

Wendy said...

So very true. All of it.

I belong to an on-line support group for widows/ers only. It's called Daily Strength. They have many groups, but this one is called Widows.
The people there are very supportive and we're all in the same boat. I thought someone on that site had posted this, but I'm not sure.

Yes, this is a horrible journey we're on.

Silver said...

I love what you have written, Deborah. Every word of it, breathes such a sincere emotion, only another one of us will know how much it really meant to keep the memories alive.