Saturday, February 09, 2013

how do you help heal a broken heart?

You do exactly what the circle of people around us have done over the past six weeks.

Accept that there is a hurt there that you may or may not understand. No matter what your own experience of grief is each single circumstance, even for the same person, is different. Nothing you can do will alleviate all the hurt. Grief is a process and while it can be pushed back it will resurface. Accept that and be prepared.

Be present. Not obnoxiously so but check in. A short phone call, a quick email, connect for that thing you've been talking about for months. Grief creates isolation and in grief it can be so very very hard to reach out, or to think of reaching out. Saying nothing may be interpreted as blame, or a lack of caring. It really isn't hard in this day and age to find some way to reach out.

Be honest. If you have questions ask them. If you are grieving too say so. Tell the grieving person how you feel.  They may be shocked to realize they aren't as alone in their grief as they feel.

Share. Your memories, photos whatever you have of the departed one. Sharing is a way to break through the isolation of grief. And even though it may be bittersweet it's still sweet. Memories may hit you at any time. Share them when they do. It's likely to make the person both ache and smile.  A friend made this picture her cover picture today - and let me know how Wyn like she thought it was. Pretty good impression for a black lab eh?

Be concrete. If possible go beyond  email or FB post. Send that card. Pick up the phone. Make eye contact. Twelve years ago I got a package in the mail  after Rufus, our first golden, died. It was a photo frame with words around it. "Remember this moment? The memory brings a smile to my face. I recall the exact feeling. Suddenly it was magic I wanted to capture all the fun forever in an instant. Smile when you recall this happy time. Proof we were there. Remembrance of laughter, happiness and good times. Those were the days. Always know as years go by, this moment will last forever."  The frame has been out somewhere through every photo rotation and move we've had since it arrived. People have sent cards,  flowers, cookies, meals - all are gratefully appreciated even if not properly smelled or tasted. Donations continue to be made to Project Jessie the rescue I work the most with. So thoughtful and touching and so appreciated.

Be yourself. Things beyond the person's grief are happening in the world. Talk about all the normal things you do usually. Do they have something else in life happening? Ask about it. Be prepared to spend a little while every time you connect on the grief. Grief is strange.

Laugh, and cry cry and laugh. You don't need to be strong, or emotional or anything special. Be yourself! You are in the grieving person's life and you can be yourself. If you don't know what to say it's better to say that than to stay away. There is one person I fully expected to hear from about Wyn. I have yet to hear from them and it confuses me. 

Share concern. If the grief is destroying the person say so;if you worry it isn't normal say so. Give the person suffering support and options for help.

Share hope. Life is a truly wondrous thing and cultivating gratitude can be so difficult in tough times. It is both awful and wonderful to watch Wyn's peers and friends growing up but it's hopeful. It reassures me there will  be rainbows and sunshine in life again. 

My world was so wonderful around the loss of Wyn. Words may never express my appreciation properly but I promise to pay it forward when people I know face grief.

Life truly is learning. 


Sara said...

"Share hope" is my favorite part of this fabulous post. Without hope, life is unbearable.

"Share" is good too!
I remember when my first dog died, and my mother in law sent me some photos she had taken of him as a puppy. I had never seen them before, I hadn't even been present when the photos were taken. My husband had taken the pup to her house for a visit. This was before digital photos, and I had only a handful of puppy photos of him. I don't think she'll ever know what a tremendous gift she gave me. I fell to the floor crying when I opened the envelope, but they were some really good tears.

Muttsandaklutz said...

Words of wisdom from the heart... and yours sure has been through a lot. Thanks for sharing this.