Who here hasn’t rudely awakened to the reality that our friends and family just aren’t going to be as loving and supportive as we expected? If you are one of the lucky few whose folks circled the wagons when you lost your spouse, “good on you”. Know that is rare. Feel free to skip this blog entry.
For the rest of us (and we all recognize each other, don’t we?), our comfort has come from a variety of other sources. Church helps many of us, some others not so much. Reading was a big help to me, in fact, an enormous help. Reading books by others who had walked in my shoes were, for a while, the only books that could hold my focus. They helped me know that what I was experiencing was quite normal in the moments when I thought I was losing my grip. Facebook and grief support groups can be a refuge, too.
More than anything else, though, the most help, solace, and comfort for me came in the shape of people who had walked this path before me. It came from other people who had known a devastating loss, whether a spouse, a child…or someone very, very important to them. These folks listened endlessly because they understood that healing comes in the talking it out.
They were not daunted by my infrequent tears when those got away from me. They knew and understood, that tears were also healing. These veteran grievers opened their hearts and their ears, even knowing that to do so would take them back down some of their own dark rabbit holes again. To console a griever does not come without a cost to the consoler.
They checked in on me frequently, knowing how fragile I was. They cheered and applauded my successes, as I took my tentative steps to climb out of my own dark rabbit holes. I cannot write this blog without giving a special nod to my cousin, Shelley, who has survived the loss of not only her spouse but an adult child. She’s still standing and has one of the most realistically positive attitudes about life I’ve ever encountered. She’s an incredible blessing in my life and a real inspiration.
I am grateful, beyond my ability to express, to each of those dear friends who reached back to pull me along. To those of you with fresh losses, I encourage you to reach up…to those who have walked a similar path. Read stories of widows who have gone before you. They will be your beacon of light and hope.
To those of you who are beginning to feel better; to see life in Kodachrome color again, don’t forget to reach back yourselves. Like the “pay it forward” concept, it’s essential to pay your bill by “paying it back” to others yourself. It will cost you. It will bring back feelings and memories, no doubt. But it’s the right thing to do.
If you need some refresher material, or you want to be of help but haven’t had an intimate loss yourself, you’ll find some splendid ideas in the Grief Diaries book, sold here, entitled “How to Help the Newly Bereaved”, written by top-notch experts, grievers themselves. It’s available here in my store and at The Grief Toolbox. See details here:
You know, that Golden Rule thing. And more than being the right thing to do? It’s the next healing step in your own grief journey. While in the depth of those soul discussions, you can’t help being a little anguished, that’s true. It’s every bit as true that once you’ve walked through the storm again, holding someone else’s hand, you will feel a deep sense of reward. You’ll feel as though you’ve made a positive difference, perhaps for the first time in a long time, in someone else’s life. You’ll feel that way….because you have.
Don’t shirk the chance to reach back. It will be more satisfying than you can imagine.
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