Many people find it hard to know what to say or to do when meeting with a friend who has been bereaved. It has been difficult for us and for our friends to find a way to share painful and confusing feelings about Joshua’s death. In one sense these past months have been a steep learning curve as we’ve struggled to comfort one another. What are the right words? How can I make things better? Even subtle avoidance of talking about Josh. So I have gathered some of my own thoughts as well as words from others that I feel sum up what can be helpful.
- Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more comforting than pretending he never existed.
- Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world.
- 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 or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be included. If you don’t know what to say, you can just say that “I don’t know what to say, but I care and want you to know that.”
- I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I’m not sick. I am 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. My whole world has changed and I will never be the same.
- I will not always be grieving so intensely but I will never forget and rather than recover, I want to include his life and love into the rest of my life.
- I don’t understand what you mean when you say ” you’ve got to get on with your life”……..my life is going on.
- Don’t tell me that everything happens for a reason. Some things in life are unacceptable.
- Please don’t say “call if you need anything”……I will never call as I have no idea what I need but here are some ideas that may help. 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 already and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough to reach out on this difficult day.
- Ask me more than once to join you for lunch, a film or a walk and please don’t give up on me because somewhere down the line, I may be ready and if you have given up then I really will be alone.
- Understand how different every social situation feels and how out of place I can feel where I used to feel so comfortable.
- Don’t worry if I seem to be getting stronger and then suddenly I seem to slip backwards. Grief is like that. And please don’t tell me you know how I feel or that it’s time to get on with my life. What I need now is time to grieve.
- Most of all thank you for being my friend and for your patience. Thank you for caring.
- And in the days or years ahead, after your loss- when you need me as I have needed you- I will understand. And I will come and be with you.