i dropped by work the other day to pick up my check, and walked out with the realization that life goes on.
everything was normal at work; the same people were in the kitchen, the same server was working her normal lunch shift, the owners were having a meeting in the booth they always do, and so on. only my life was different. i was different.
it's been a crazy two weeks since my mom passed away. i've had a lot of thankful moments [blog coming soon], and even more excruciatingly painful ones. some days i feel numb, and other days, raw, but quite frankly, i'm not sure that the loss of my dear mother has really hit home yet.
one thing i am sure of, however, is what my role is in this whole grieving process, and what you can do to help.
let's start with the don'ts [hopefully this helps you help other people grieve also]:
don't say "call me if you need anything". while the person who is grieving may pick up the phone once in a while, this is highly unlikely. the one in pain shouldn't be in charge of reaching out. pick up the phone. if they want to talk, they'll answer, and if they don't, they know you care.
don't expect a response right away [or sometimes, ever]. i'm weird in the sense that i will [eventually] reply to every single message i receive, but not everyone is like me, and not everyone can. either way, the person you send texts/emails/mail to reads all of them, and appreciates your sentiment. being thought about is most helpful.
don't say things like "God must have wanted another angel" or "she is with Jesus in heaven now". while the latter may be true, and comforting at times, the person grieving knows this, and would rather their mother/husband/child be with them now. selfishly, eternity [or whatever] can wait. it's eternity.
and lastly, don't forget about them after the funeral. grief is a process, and this is when they'll need you the most.
let the wounded lead. my BFFN was the perfect person to greet me at the airport when i got home. she hugged me, asked me how i was in that moment, and then asked me what i felt like doing. in that moment, i felt like being normal. we went out for lunch and caught up on life, hung out with her dog, watched suits [staring at Harvey spector brings me healing], and then when i needed to, i processed what happened the morning before and cried, and she listened. she didn't assume how i was feeling and act accordingly; she asked me how i was feeling, and let me lead.
enter into their pain. we tend to distance ourselves from our loved one's pain because we feel uncomfortable, and/or avoid the elephant in the room because we feel awkward. but here's the thing [and i have to remind myself of this when the tables are turned] - we're called to "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn" [romans 12:15], and grieving isn't about you.
and lastly, be practical, and show up.
my friends have been great. i've had cards mailed to my house, received countless hugs, flowers sent to me, meals cooked for me, money collected, and the list goes on, all of which have helped me a great deal and have kept me going during moments i didn't think i could, or had no desire to.
in times like these, my mind often goes back to the story of job. this dude knew pain. he had everything [ten kids, thousands of animals, a ton of servants, and good health], and lost everything just like that.
"when job’s three friends, eliphaz the temanite, bildad the shuhite and zophar the naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. when they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. no one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was" [job 2:11-13]
but then, in chapters four, eight and eleven, job's friends open their mouths, and, in an attempt to find a solution to his pain, start blaming him and his sin for his loss [which, as you'll notice from reading chapter one, isn't the case at all].
take it from their example, don't try and figure life [or death] out, make excuses as to why something is happening to one of your friends, or feel the need to come up with a solution. though job's friend's fell into that trap the second time, they had it right the first; they showed up, felt his pain, and sat with him in it.
now if you'll excuse me, i have some letters to write. some of my friends are going through the thick of it and could use a little encouragement themselves. [i practice what i preach].