Things not to say to someone grieving…

In my life I have lost two of the most important people that anyone can lose, my mother and my father. My mom passed on 03/17/2011 at 54 and my dad on 11/29/2017 at 61. There have been other people who I have lost and who I’ve grieved for, but losing a parent is different than an aunt, uncle, grandparent. Of course you have a relationship with them, but the people who raised you leave such an impact on your life. In the last 6 years, 10 months, I’ve heard many different things that people have said to me or others grieving.

When I lost my mom people told me she was in a better place, some told me I needed to get over it, others said she wouldn’t want me to be sad. At the time I had others who called and asked me if Facebook posts they were seeing on her page were true. Some people may joke around about death or losing their parents, but I was not that way. Everyone grieves in their own way and while she is in a better place, telling someone that right after someone passes may not be the best thing to say, neither is telling someone to get over the death of a loved one because we will never be over no matter how much time passes.

Recently at some doctor’s appointments and other appointments, people told me my dad was in a better place, no longer in pain, etc. And I know him being in pain no longer is a huge relief for me because of his numerous health issues, and while his death came quick, I had a chance for closure with him that I didn’t get with my mom, but again with his passing I have heard comments from people again telling me he wouldn’t want me to be sad or cry, that he would want me to move on with my life. The most recent comment which hurt more than the others was when I recently went to a walk-in clinic for this upper respiratory stuff that’s been going around this winter. A doctor was getting a little bit of history on me, if I had siblings, my parents, what I do for work. When I told the I lost both of my parents and was an only child this doctor said, “So that makes you an orphan now”. And by the true definition of an orphan that statement is true, why would you say that to someone who had only lost their father five weeks previously?!

Some of the best things you can do for someone grieving is offer to go to the funeral home with them to make arrangements, take them out to lunch or dinner, spend a weekend day with them, bring over a home cooked meal so they don’t have to worry about cooking for a night, let them call you and listen to them cry if they need to, or just to vent. There are so many productive ways to help someone who is grieving rather than saying they are in a better place or they wouldn’t want you to be sad, because while that may be true, words can hurt even if they are meant in the best possible way. We learn to live without them in our lives, but there will always be things that trigger us and make us relive the day we lost them.

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Grieving…

Let me tell you, grieving is such a weird, yet in a way, beautiful state to be in. It’s difficult losing someone you love, but then at the same time, you get to share with other people how much that person meant to you, stories, memories, and pictures. I say this because I started an 8 week bereavement class last night through the hospitals hospice program. Last night was a lot of general stuff about what we would be doing the next seven Monday nights, but we also got to share a bit about our loved ones. This was difficult for all of us because we had to share who we lost, their name, and their date of death, but a lot of us shared other personal  things about our loved one to the rest of the group.

We have “homework” weekly, but it’s all to allow us to help heal. There is a book we are reading that has a journal go along with it called “Understanding Your Grief” by Alan Wolfelt. We are reading the introduction and first chapter this week along with bringing in no more than three pictures of our loved one(s) that we lost. To say I’m excited about this may sound strange, but being able to share my story and hear others and make unique connections with others who are going through similar situations as myself comforts me. I already know what three pictures I will be bringing in of my dad and I. All I need to do is get them printed off some place.

The first night was hard emotionally and also draining, but it’s also good to not bottle things up, which is part of why I’m blogging about my life as my dad’s caregiver and what I’m doing now that he’s gone. Life is an interesting journey and at some point we are all going to experience significant loss in our lives and at some point too we will pass. There were words of encouragement from the fall group that left me feeling like I was in the right place and need to see this through fully. I know no matter how much time passes there will be times that are harder than others and that’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing where this book and journaling will take me in my grieving process and when I’m ready to share that portion of my journey I will.

You always picture your life going a certain way and to have things in life go smoothly, but the truth is there are obstacles in the way. It’s how you deal with those obstacles that life throws at you that’s important. I never imagined I would be 30 and not have either parent still alive. They won’t have the chance to see me do so many more amazing things in my life, but I know while there were here they got to see me do some pretty awesome things and I know they were so proud of me. I’m taking this minute by minute and day by day. That’s all any of us can do in any situation in life. I’ve often heard it said that it’s no so much your start day in life (your birthday) and your end date (the day you pass) that’s important and that tell your story but it’s the dash in between those dates that make you who you are and truly tell your story, so go out there and make every day count no matter what your situation is. There’s a quite from the TV show Castle that my dad and I watched together while it was from the lead on the show Stana Katic (Detective Kate Beckett) that goes, “Even on the worst days there’s a possibility for joy”. Go out there and find something that makes you happy every day, even if  you are having a bad day.