Not sure why I was thinking about this yesterday… but I was.
What are some of the things you remember, in your greatest time of sorrow… grief… or joy? Do you remember people? Do you remember who showed up? Do you remember who did not? Any surprises? Do you remember the weather? Do you remember anyone elses responses… or… do you remember how you felt?
I ask this question, as my mind has drifted from past to present. I thought about this question and immedietly my mind scanned for how I responded to others in need. Did I show up? Did I make a casserole, a salad or a pot of soup? Did I say a silent prayer, did I reach out at all? Did I send a card?
I took a giant step back into my memory, and found some really sad times. One in particular stands out. I remember when one of Hailey’s classmates died in a tragic accident. He was walking across a busy street and was hit by a semi. Not sure how news spread so quickly before we had Facebook… but within hours, the whole town was buzzing.
I made a macaroni salad, stopped at the grocery store and bought deli meat, rolls and the fixings… then, I drove to their house. I just wanted to hug the parents, and leave the food… but… God had another plan. I ended up spending the entire day with them.
I was the one, who opened the door and spoke to the attorney, representing the driver. (In retrospect, who the heck does this? The very day… they sent someone to question the grieving parents.)
When I hopped into my car that morning, I had a plan… I didn’t know what the need would be… but I knew they would need to eat. (This is my love language… I feed people.)
What I didn’t know, was that they would also need someone to pray with them. Cry with them. Make phone calls. Answer phone calls and to tell them that it was all going to be okay.
I think back to that day. Why was I able to comfort them? What did I have, that they needed? Nothing. I was just willing to be there. I am not sharing this story to point out what a good person I am… I am sharing it to show you how something so little… a few groceries and a tuna salad… can make a difference. How being willing to sit with a horrific situation and sad people… can have an impact.
Be that person. Set your own stuff aside… and just show up. I am not saying you need to cancel your day or not be there for your family… what I am saying is that you need to be willing to be uncomfortable. It is not fun being with a grieving person. Nobody knows what to say. Nobody knows what to do.
No-one knows what someone needs, and everyone is different… so… we stay away.Don’t stay away.
Remember when people made a pot of soup for a sick neighbor? Remember when people brought food, for a family, who had just lost a loved one?Be the person who makes the soup. Be the person who feels awkward and shows up anyway. Be the person who bakes a casserole, sends a card and picks up the phone. If we could stop making it personal… and realize it’s not about us… we would be so much better off. We need to learn to set aside our own fear of saying the wrong thing… and just show up. Stop being so busy that you can’t drop what you’re doing and show up. People need us. We need each other.
I also remembered my own grief.
I remember my sister Kim saying, I am just going to be there.I am going to sit on the edge of her couch and be out of the way… Just in case, she needs something. Maybe it’s a hug, maybe it’s a sandwich, maybe it’s to sweep her floor… but if she needs anything… I want to be there. You have no idea how much that meant to me. She was willing to come and just be there… for as long as it took… just in case, I needed something.
I was talking to a friend yesterday, who had lost his wife a few years ago. He mentioned that after the funeral, when everyone left… was the hardest part.The loneliest time of his life. He was all alone. People avoided him. People stayed away.
My experience was different. I had a friend who stayed with me for months… she allowed me to cry. Allowed me to talk on end… and never tried to make it anything else. She allowed me the space to heal.
Here is a little unsolicited advice- When people start crying, don’t stop them.Don’t rush to grab a tissue… just let them cry. Let them get all messy. Allow them to be sad. If they need a kleenex, they will ask. Allow them the space and let the tears flow. It isn’t about you. So what, if you’re uncomfortable. Allow them to cry.
One of the weirdest parts about my grief, was allowing other people to be uncomfortable with my breakdowns. And trust me… there were many.I had to watch men start to shift their weight from hip to hip… I watched as they folded their arms across their chest… I watched them as they looked away. I watched their body language and I allowed them to be uncomfortable. I needed to cry. I wasn’t sorry either… It. Was. What. I. Needed.One last thing… This isn’t a contest either. You don’t get a medal or a badge. It’s a privilege. I don’t share these things to get an atta boy or to shame someone… I am gently reminding you all… that it’s time to step up.
People are hurting. People are not okay. People are lonely. Check in. Bring the damn soup. Even if it’s raining and you don’t want to get out of your fat pants… get up and get moving. **Don’t take a selfie and post it all over your social media… it ruins it. Really. Just do it, because it needs to be done.
Until Next time… Peace and Love Peeps~