|Strong Boundaries, Open Heart|
This is Day 16 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
Today I'm thinking a lot about my friends and community and the ways they have shown up skillfully and not so skillfully in my grief. I know that witnessing someone in deep grief is hard and painful. Some people can't face my grief at all, and have disappeared from my life. Others have shown up in astonishing ways that I could never have imagined. I am so grateful to the courageous people in my life who give me support in so many ways that I need it.
NPR published a great piece on very simple ways you can support someone in grief. Essentially, it boils down to offering things you can do easily and asking if it is okay to do. Never ask someone in grief, "What can I do?" Offer things to them. Show up with food and if they don't answer the door, leave it on the porch with a note of love. Offer to be on the short list of people they can call in the middle of the night, when it feels like they are going to die if they don't hear a familiar, loving voice. But don't offer something you can't do, or are not very good at. This helps absolutely no one and makes everyone feel worse.
Some beautiful examples of what and how to offer help from the article are:
A friend: I have some lentil soup, may I bring it over? And may I bring the rest of my family and we'll all eat it together?
A neighbor: When you need to start sorting through things, may I help?
A friend: The kids and I are coming to Baltimore for the weekend. May I bring them and some pies, and come sit by the fire?
These examples showcase how simple help can be. Bringing over a bowl of lentil soup may seem simple to you, but it could mean the world to a grieving widow who has not been able to cook or feed herself because her grief is so deep. When I was faced with selling my husband's two vehicles, some friends quickly offered to clean and detail them. This was a HUGE gift to me, and they did it with good-hearted joy and kindness. I can't even express how grateful I am for these acts of kindness that I receive almost every day.
What small acts have helped you in your grief? What do you offer those in your life who are in deep sadness?
Art with Grief:
- Photographer [Sarah Treanor] Takes Moving Self-Portraits to Cope with Her Fiance's Death by Jillian Wong
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
Resources for Widows:
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Loses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.