I know I said I wasn't going to post on Saturday, but today is Friday, and tonight, I am moved to post, so post I shall.
I caught up with my friend Molly today. As many of you know, Molly lost her 17-year-old son a year and a half ago, and her suffering has been great. Today, I asked her how she is doing, and I didn't need to elaborate; she knows that I'm comfortable talking about Ryan and how her grief is going. She knows that when I ask, "How are you doing?" it means, "Dear friend, my heart breaks for you. How is your grief going today?"
Molly told me that her struggle continues, of course, and that it's rough. She said that she thinks that the second year is worse than the first, which choked me up a little to hear; last year, I witnessed the depths of grief in Molly that I hope to never see again, and to know that she is still hurting so much makes me feel helpless.
"No one ever talks about him anymore," Molly told me. She believes that everyone's thinking about it (how she's doing) but they don't always ask, maybe out of awkwardness or fear of upsetting her, but what people don't realize is that by not mentioning Ryan anymore, it makes her feel alone in her grief. Molly understands the reluctance to bring up a sad subject, but knowing that doesn't help. Yes, it's been a year and a half, but the wound is still very fresh.
It's awkward, yes. What do you say? What if the grieving person starts crying because of something you say? What if you make it worse? You just don't know how the person's going to react, but you don't have to say a lot, and you could just write a note if you feel more comfortable. *Here are some ideas for what to say or write:
"How are you doing? I've been keeping you in my prayers."
“I know that you miss (name of deceased) terribly; I hope you are having some good moments in your days."
"I was thinking about (name of deceased) today, and it made me wonder how you're doing. I want you to know that I'm here if you ever need a friend."
"Holidays can be tough when you've lost someone you love. I hope you know that we're thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers."
Of course, you may have memories of the deceased person, too. If you happen to remember a funny one, don't be afraid to call your friend (again, or write a note) and share it. It might be the brightest spot in that person's day.
Today, as we approach holidays, please think of someone who is missing a loved one and make some kind of gesture. You'll help to put a dent in their grief. At the very least, if you're the praying kind, please offer up a prayer for Molly and others in her unfortunate situation. And if you are suffering a loss this year and would like to make note of it, leave a comment (or send me an email). I truly want to know.
Here's hoping that today is a good one :)
*P.S. Weaselmomma once wrote an excellent post that relates to this topic. Hers is about what NOT to say to parents grieving the loss of an infant. Click here to find it.