Sometimes I just don't know what to say. I'm scared that, if I say the wrong thing, I will unintentionally upset someone that I care about. And I don't want to upset them.
But there is a fine line between not knowing what to say and simply shying away. However, did you know, that most bereaved people report that they would rather talk about their loved one than pretend that he or she never existed? Sometimes, from the outside looking in, we think that not saying anything will help ease the pain of remembrance. However, it does just the opposite- it makes them think their loved one has been forgotten. And no one wants their loved ones to be forgotten.
Did you know there is a whole list of things that your grieving friend or family member wishes you knew? Check out this top ten things that they wish you knew.
1. Please don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, “i’m sorry.” You can even say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that.”
2. Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand- you do not need to say anything at all, for words will not ease the pain.
3. I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate their life and love into the rest of my life. They are a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember them with joy and other times with a tear. Both are okay.
4. I don’t even understand what you mean when you say, “You’ve got to get on with your life.” My life is going on, I’ve been forced to take on many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.
5. I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your hugs. I need you to just be with me, and I need to be with you. I need to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.
6. If I have lost a child, please don’t remind me that I have other children to tend to love and keep me busy. If I have lost my spouse, please don't remind me that I can always get remarried. If I have lost a parent, sibling or friend, please don't remind me that I will always have memories to cling to. When you do, in my mind I wonder, "What makes you think people are replaceable? They aren’t."
7. I feel even more lost and alone when you tell me what I should be doing. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don’t make it worse by telling me I’m not doing this right.
8. I don’t have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable.
9. I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I’m not sick. I’m grieving and that’s different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after my loved one’s death. Don’t think that I will be over it in a year. For I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for watching our children and grandchildren grow, the places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same.
10. Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding. Thank you for praying for me.
-list taken and modified from a post found online at www.youngwidow.org