A few months ago, as I was filling out paperwork at the Doctors office, it dawned on me that in the past 6 years or so, I have been able to check off every status box they offer: married…separated… divorced…single, and widowed. Now, I have never been a huge over achiever, but at 36 years old, its better late then never, right? Then again maybe not. At this point, I’m not sure which box to check. Since my usual attire is yoga pants, glasses, a bun and a T shirt, I don’t feel very single, but the whole widow term just creeps me out. It makes me think of some crazy old cat lady, living in some spooky house. Unfortunately, they do not have a “single but not ready to have a match.com profile” so I usually just stick with the widow box.
I think the hardest part – for me – is being a single parent. Again. I have no one to help me wrangle my 2 year old into a somewhat clean outfit, no one to help me prepare meals for my OCD 11 year old, and no one to help me during those middle of the night “Mommy!!!” wake up calls. Mainly though, I miss just having someone to vent to, and…it’s lonely.
Of course, there are a few pluses. I can put the thermostat on whatever temp. I want to, and I can finally use my comfy goose down comforter on my bed.
It has also taught me a lot. Grief is just one of those things that you just can’t imagine what it’s like, until you actually go through it yourself, and even then, it’s different for everyone. I wish that Life came with some sort of Grief Handbook for friends and family. Sure there are plenty of books for the one grieving, but not so much for their loved ones. So, even though this isn’t a subject that is filled with rainbows and unicorns, I did want to share what I have learned so far:
What do do when your friend/family member has lost a loved one:
1. Don’t tell the person that you know how they feel. Even if you have both lost spouses, the circumstances, relationships etc. will always be different.
2. Do follow up with your promises. I had many people tell me after my husband, Adam died, that they were going to watch the kids, or bring dinner, and while I had friends do both, I also had people promise to, and just never followed up.
3. Do remember that while your life goes on, they may feel as if their life is at a stand still.
4. Don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one in front of them.
5. Do send notes, emails, cards and messages of encouragement – they really do matter.
6. Do pray for them. Often.
7. Don’t forget how overwhelming grief is. Before I lost my husband, I thought kids could wreak havoc on the number of brain cells you have, but grief – and lack of sleep – has put me on a whole new level. I find myself putting the Cheerio box in the fridge, forgetting simple directions – OK, so I *may* have done that before Adam died, but still… – and all of a sudden easy tasks, seem daunting to me.
8. Do share local resources with your friend/family member. We actually have quite a few great resources both locally, as well as via the internet. Below are a few:
– GriefShare: http://www.griefshare.org/ – This is a GREAT support group, which has helped me immensely. You can go to the website and type in your zip code for local groups, times and locations. (Locally, there are groups in Fayetteville, Tyrone, Peachtree City and Newnan)
– The Liz Logelin Foundation: http://thelizlogelinfoundation.org/ – While this is not a Christian Foundation, they do have some great resources. They were founded by Matt Logelin who lost his wife shortly after the birth of their daughter. They not only provide financial support to widows of young children, but they will mail out a free information packet as well. This includes a book and cd for young children who have lost a parent, a Check List for widows, and other good websites and organizations.
– Christian Families Today: http://www.cftministry.org/ – Located at Ashley Park in Newnan, this is a wonderful Christian Counselling center for youth and adults, started by Greg Brazina, a past Linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons. It is Non-Profit, and they charge and are run purely on donations.
The best resource though, is you. Just continue to be a friend, loving and accepting, continually pointing your grieving friends towards their ultimate Healer: Jesus.by