November 27, 2010

GRIEF: HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?

Grief can come in many forms. The loss of a loved one through death, the loss of our youth as we grow older, the loss of a spouse through divorce or the grief a person feels as their lifestyle changes for whatever reason.

After experiencing the death of a loved one, survivors grieve the loss. Selfishly, the death is a reminder of our own mortality. Selflessly, it truly hurts because the person will be missed. There is no one-way to grieve. People grieve the way they need to grieve. What helps one person may not help another, everybody is different.

As awkward as it feels to relate to somebody who has experienced the loss of a loved one, here are some insights that may help. It is not an all-inclusive list. Everybody is different.

ONE PERSPECTIVE:

Please talk about him/her, even though he/she is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he/she never existed. I need to talk about him/her, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Accept the fact that I may cry from time-to-time. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

If you tell me what I should be doing, I may feel even more lost and alone. I feel anguish that he/she is dead, so please don't make it worse by telling me I'm doing this incorrectly.

I am not strong. I'm just numb. If you tell me that I should be strong, I think that you don't see me.

Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I feel only if you really have time to listen.

I don't 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 when I cry.

Grief is not like having a cold or the flu. They are different. My grieving may only begin 2 months after his/her death. Don't think that I will be over it in a year. I am not only grieving his/her death, but also the person I was when I was with him/her, the life that we shared, the plans we had, the places we will never get to go together, and the hopes, dreams and desires that will never come true. My whole world has been crushed and I will never be the same.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget him/her, and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his/her life and love into the rest of my life. He/she is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him/her 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.

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.

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 am in shock. I am afraid. I feel deep rage. I feel guilty. Above all, I hurt. I'm experiencing a pain unlike any I've ever felt before. The pain is so profound, it is difficult to imagine how deeply it hurts.

Don't worry if you think I'm getting better and then suddenly I seem to slip backward. I behave that way sometimes. 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 from a distance. Thank you for praying for me.

Remember in the days or years ahead, after you experience a loss - when you need me as I have needed you - I will understand from a distance. Then I will come and be with you.

Written by,
Anonymous

Mark Rogers, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
(11/10)

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