Sunday, July 6, 2008

How Can We Help?

“How can we help?” Parents, relatives and friends have asked that question of bereaved parents... perhaps even to you. Were you reluctant to answer? Here are 10 suggestions of what you may want to say to others to keep communication lines open and promote understanding of your situation.

1. Encourage me to talk about my child and truly listen to what I have to say. You may learn something you never knew that could be of help in how you react to me.
2. Call and ask me to go out with you to lunch, shopping or a movie. Our minds will be free from thinking about our child for a few hours.
3. Have a shoulder ready that I can cry on. At any moment I can lose control of my emotions for any reason. It can be a song I hear on the radio, an anniversary I can no longer share or a special holiday.
4. Be around for me if I need anything and can’t seem to get it done. It could be just changing a light bulb, cleaning the house or shopping for food. There will be times I can’t move and other times I feel exhausted. Try to understand these times.
5. Encourage me to start a new project, join a new organization, or volunteer at someplace that could use our expertise. Perhaps a new job or new environment could help me. Talk to me about it.
6. Understand that I will never be the same and accept the new ‘me.’ Accept that I may now have new goals I never dreamed of before my child died.
7. Encourage me to get rest, stay healthy and exercise. I may not want to do it at first, but keep trying to get me out of the house and not sit alone with my memories.
8. Remember my child during the year with a note about a birthday, a thinking of you card, or a happy memory or thought.
9. Respect the fact that I may not want to participate in some activities. I may now have different priorities and some things are no longer important to me.
10. Just be there for me. Silence is okay. Saying “I’m sorry” is adequate.

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Elaine, thanks for your comment on my Men's Grief blog, June 22. I agree with you completely. Women do grieve in much the same way, but I think men are often forgotten in this grief process, and I wanted to acknowledge that their grief is just as important as a woman's. I have seen in many situations friends asking how the wife is doing, but not necessarily the husband. Most of my comments about grief in this weekly blog are from the heart of a woman. My intention was not to leave out the woman's feelings in this process, but honor the father's also.

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Nancy, who lost her son very recently, sent me an email which I appreciated. It is good to correspond with her, and I hope she seeks some type of help and not go through this alone. It can be a grief group, a counselor, a local or national conference, or reading books that will acknowledge feelings we all encounter. Keep reading my blog and go back and read them all from August '07. It will give lots of info on a variety of grief subjects and personal experiences by others.

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