In a world of challenges and adventures, one of the most all-encompassing dilemmas I have ever encountered was becoming a widow at the age of 61.
There are many ways to lose your life partner. Death can occur quickly and unexpectedly or it can creep up on you slowly over months and years. Trust me when I tell you that the knowledge that death is coming, and sooner than you expected it, does not prepare you for the absence of that loved one. The searing realization that the person who was your kindred spirit no longer exists still hits you like a ton of bricks and you honestly cannot believe they are gone. Even months after your loss, the events of your loved one’s illness and death amaze you. Even after 6 months, there are days when I still can’t believe my husband is gone. Many people may think it is easier when you knew death was coming over time thus allowing you to recover from your grief faster somehow. That does not happen.
Many of us in this group have, unfortunately, experienced the death of a loved one. Supporting our friends during these life-changing times is important. It will be the people who have experienced this level of loss who will understand deeply the hurt and the healing process which needs to happen in the months and years following the death of a loved one.
These are some things that I learned this year from my friends who helped me tremendously. If you have someone who is working through grief, you may want to try the following things:
- Give them your information so they can reach you when they are ready. Add a note to your sympathy card which includes your phone, text number and e mail. Sometimes it is easier to type your feelings than to talk on the phone. Your friend will need to reach out in her own good time.
- Consider sharing a book title that may be of help. There are many books on grief that can be Goggled and purchased on Amazon. Two titles that come to mind are:”Travelling through Grief”, and “Saturday Night Widows”.
- Allow your friend to have space to grieve alone, but don’t hesitate to call her and invite her for a quick lunch or shopping venture. Don’t give up on her if she turns you down a few times or cancels plans at the last minute. It is often difficult to make plans and keep commitments when you are suffering from a loss.
- Be available, be a listener, be positive, be hopeful, and above all, be a loving friend.
Thanks to those who have been there for me this year.