Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reaching Out to Grief

A week and a half ago, our youngest son, Daniel, died. He was twenty years old. In the fog of grief and exhaustion, I've sometimes wondered what I would say in my first post since that day. It felt strange to have my mind jump to such ordinary things, but even in the middle of the worst moments, I have known life really does go on, whether we like it or here I am. I'm a writer, and I value healing and relationships, so it helps me to be here. I hope it helps somebody else, too.

I have learned a powerful lesson in the last ten days. I've learned that any expression of caring and support is of value when someone has died. I used to think that I might cause more grief by calling and stirring things up, or that I'd be one person too many during an exhausting time. As a result, I often hung back when a friend's loved one died. I suspect some of that hanging back was connected to unresolved grief of my own and to a general discomfort with death. But a large part of it came from my belief that my small offering was too small to bother with or would be badly timed.

Well, I'm here to tell you that's not how it works.

My husband and I began to heal early on, a bit at a time, as we were lovingly touched by the hundreds of people who called, emailed, came by, hugged us, sent cards, cried with us, posted a message on Daniel's Facebook tribute page, prepared and brought food, tidied up, sent flowers, sang and drummed, prayed, smiled, and reminisced with us. One friend and neighbour came by and fixed the porch light -- what a helpful, caring act! Every good thought, each small act, has helped us avoid despair and overwhelm -- and will continue to do so.

So, please, trust your instincts when someone suffers a loss. Believe that you do matter. Your offering of support and caring helps. My husband described it this way: the sadness, grief and numbness of Daniel's death emptied our reservoirs, but each act of kindness and support refills our reservoirs one drop at a time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful beautiful message.