Updated: Oct 3, 2018
Last week I met up with a friend who was looking for resources and advice on how to help a friend whose child died recently. I came armed with my favorite and most useful grief books.
As I was packing up the books I was thinking to myself, "who has a grief library" in their own home. Me, I do.
As I was talking with my friend and sharing some of my "favorites", she asked, "but what do we do for her, in a month, in a year, and beyond?" I said, "Be there. Be there today, tomorrow, next week, next month and in 5 years...and even longer than that." When a child dies, or any special person dies, while their physical life may be over, their memory, their legacy lives on as long as your friend does. For your friend who has suffered what many say is the greatest loss one can experience, just letting him/her know that you are present in their grief, is the greatest gift you can give the bereaved.
I read to her something that I wrote in the middle of the night last week about a time when I realized that even though grief changes over time, your loss is always present in your life. I was watching the popular show Desperate Housewives one night, I was an only parent at the time, and Sunday nights were sacred for me. With my glass of wine and bowl of Cheetos (yep!) I am in bed watching this fictional dramedy. Mrs. McCluskey, the 60+ year old busy-body of Wisteria Lane, walked over to her mantle and lovingly picked up a framed photo of a young boy about twelve years old. She became teary eyed. I realized then that not only was Mrs. M. a widow, she also had a son die. Holy shit....was that ME in a few years?! Will this pain really follow me until I am Mrs. M's age??? I knew the answer to my question and the answer was yes, the pain will follow me, but it will lessen, and then be intense, and be all over my emotional map for the rest of my life. And I am ok with that.
Death changes.....everything. It changes your outlook, your passions, your relationships with family, and friends. It can make you a stronger and a more convicted person. And few will understand the changes that happen, but as I have said to many people, "try to focus on those who do, not those who don't, because sometimes on the elevator of life you have to let a few people off". Be kind to yourself in your own grief journey, as you learn to live with the imperfections of grief.