Saturday, January 3, 2009

How to Help, cont.

My friend, Weaselmomma, wrote a wonderful post not long ago about how to/not to respond to grieving parents. She did a beautiful job, and I highly recommend reading it or at the very least bookmarking it for future reference.

When Mike was here one night following the Visitation for Ryan, he shared another "Don't," inspired by his experience. He and Molly received nearly a thousand people at the Visitation and funeral. Only three people did this, but it was enough: If you are curious about "what happened," do not ask the parents in the receiving line. They are devastated, weak, grief-stricken. Do not ask them to satisfy your curiosity; such a question is insensitive. Ask someone else.

I hope you don't have any funerals to go to, but if you do, I have one more idea to share...

When my father-in-law died, it rocked me to the core. I shed more tears than I knew I had. On the day of the funeral, I went to the mall in search of handkerchiefs. I bought some pretty, feminine ones and gave one to each of the grandkids and kept one for myself. At the funeral (and after), I filled that hanky with my tears until it seemed I could wring it out. Days later, the rumpled cloth lay on my dresser, and I could not bring myself to wash it. I never did. I put it away in a box of mementos from that day.

Two years later, when my own dad died, I took that hanky out again and, once again, filled it with liquid sorrow. When Ryan passed away, I couldn't find my hanky, but I went and bought more; a dozen, in fact. I shared them with Mike and Molly and their families. A simple piece of cloth offers tenderness. It's a small thing that nurtures and comforts. When you are at a loss for how to help, this simple gesture can mean a lot.

Prayers to those who have suffered losses of dear ones in 2008 (or before). May the new year bring you healing, comfort, and hope.

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