When a Friend is Grieving

Grief is a very personal journey and a very long one. It is different for every family and for every individual. We can never, ever assume that someone will be “over it” in a few weeks or months. They will not be!

I hope I never have to hear another bunch of guys telling a male friend “Pull yourself together. It’s been 6 weeks already!” That is cold and heartless and in fact, cruel. Get with the program, guys. It could soon be you in his shoes. And you will NOT be OK in 6 weeks, 6 months or even 6 years, no matter how much bravado you display. Inside you will still be in pain. Even macho men will be lucky to get through one day at a time.

Nor are grieving women any less vulnerable to stupid comments or actions by others. They need our help and our friendship. They need our practical help: meals brought in, houses cleaned, dogs walked, litter boxes changed, grocery shopping done, postage stamps bought, gardens weeded, and car and/or pool maintained. Depending on who was the financial expert, they may need discreet help getting their financial affairs in order. Maybe there will be children who need rides to everywhere today’s children need to be. Very likely, a bereaved spouse will need to deal with selling a house quickly without being prepared to do so.

One thing a new widow (or widower or mourning parent) does not need is to be picked on in Sunday School. Church should be the one place where they feel safe and understood and loved. Just because the person is there in body for spiritual solace and the warmth of shared beliefs does not mean she is prepared to answer gospel questions asked by thoughtless people. Show some mercy! Leave her alone!

In no particular order, there are many stages of grief: denial and isolation, sorrow/depression, anger, acceptance, and trying to bargain with God. We don’t go through them in any given order and in fact, will be back and forth between these stages for a very long time, no matter how things appear to others on the outside. The classic text On Death and Dying is by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross but others in the medical field have written about it also. If you need comfort and understanding of the pain, it will be a good use of Google to find some other well-written texts, also. However, the grief-stricken survivor may not have the energy or the inclination to read anything for quite a while. Sorrow is very draining.

An excellent article, How You Can Help a Grieving Friend appears at http://www.squidoo.com/daily-living-on-a-grief-journey. Scroll to the end of the other very helpful pages there. I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: My blog posts are statements of opinion only. I am not in the business of giving financial, legal, medical or any other type of advice. See Terms of Use and Disclaimer for further disclaimers.

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