Every morning I sit down with a notebook and I write... .Dear God, and then I proceed to pour my heart out and tell him all about what is going on with me and my life and my joys and my pain and my happiness and frustration and my gratitude and those things that are weighing on my heart and mind and then I ask questions....I just let my pen flow and get it all out and then....I hear His voice, I hear His answers, I feel His love and I get inspiring ideas and direction in my life and comfort and huge answers and little answers and sometimes silence so I can ponder and over time this has become easier and easier to hear Him and to also hear my inner voice. Its an amazing experience to feel this direct communication and to know I can be still and always know He is there. I got this idea from a book I read called "Writing Down Your Soul". I would recommend this to anyone who wants to become closer to God and who wants to get more in touch with their inner voice. It has been life changing for me :)
I feel inspired to write about this today so here goes: since one of my specialties is grief and loss- be it through relationships, death, health, a pet, losing a job etc. I have worked with hundreds of people who have experienced loss in some way and I have people ask me often what to do or how to act when someone has died or is going through a loss. First of all... Never say "I understand" because even if you have experienced a similar loss, we don't understand even if we think we do.
Each person's grief is unique to them and significant to them in their own way. You can say " I hear you" or "I can't imagine how hurt you must feel, I'm here for you". Comparing losses is never a good thing either. Let's face it, loss hurts period. In whatever way it came into our lives, loss hurts, and just because someone lost an animal and someone else lost a person it doesn't mean one deserves more love and attention than the other or that one person's loss means less or has less significance than the other. We get to honor our pain and the pain in each other no matter what the circumstance is. The point is that someone is hurting from a significant loss and we get to just honor that.
Many times people don't know exactly what to say or do. I have found that one of the most significant things a person can do for another is to just sit in silence with them and allow them the tears and to speak and to just be there and walk through the grief with them. You don't have to take the pain away or try to make it all better by saying things like "at least you know they are in a better place" or " at least you can have another child " or " time heals all wounds" ( and the millions of other well meaning phrases people say that don't help at all)
I've observed how uncomfortable we seem to be as human beings allowing others to cry and feel their emotions and we want to make it all better real quick so that WE are more comfortable. In that moment it's not about US. It's about them and just allowing them to feel it and being the hand that holds theirs through it or the shoulder to cry on when they need to be held. We are taught how to acquire things and gain things but we really lack in knowing how to lose things or deal with loss. We aren't really taught how. We have to give ourselves permission to grieve. It's a great release and tears can be so cleansing. Oftentimes too people will say " let me know what I can do for you"...really? This person is in the middle of grief and they don't even know what they need except that they just want all the pain to go away.
As I've talked to people who have experienced deep loss what always seems to stand out in their mind is the significant moments to them when someone just showed up for them in a variety of ways like helping them make funeral arrangements or someone dropping a meal by or doing significant things that they don't feel capable of doing at the moment like even dropping by to take their kids to school because they were hurting so deeply that getting out of bed that day seemed impossible.
I have made it a habit not to ask "let me know what I can do for you" and rather thinking instead "what would I want someone to do for me in a moment like this?" and just doing it instead. When they know you are there to either just sit and listen or take a load off by showing up with a prepared meal or sending them notes of encouragement and love in the mail it makes a world of difference. It really does.
Lastly people who are grieving have expressed to me how isolated they feel sometimes because people act awkward around them and then avoid the topic and then all together start avoiding the person. Death seems to be a very awkward topic and on this I would still be the friend I was before and let that person take the lead in the conversation in allowing them to discuss it when they feel comfortable doing so and then when they do just honor their pain. They are on a roller coaster ride of emotions and sometimes just asking permission to hug them can help also letting them know that when they are ready to talk you are always ready to listen. If you are grieving, be gentle on yourself as it comes in waves and if you are the loved one watching someone go through grief, hold their hand and sit in silence with them. We all need each other and being supported and surrounded by love can make a world of difference!