(Some of my besties, loving on me at Andrew’s evening memorial service 2013)
I just got back from an incredible weekend in Cuero, TX. I can remember just a short year ago driving into Cuero and feeling overwhelmed by the loss of my husband, Andrew. Everything about Cuero reminded me of him. I remember having a breakdown walking through Andrew’s parent’s house, where we lived and where Andrew passed away. I could feel the heaviness of what life was like not that long ago. This time driving into town felt much different. This time, I felt like I was coming home to family. I credit this to the people who live there and in the surrounding areas, because they have gone above and beyond to take care of our family. To this day they are some of our biggest supporters. If you ask Ellie where her home is she will tell you it’s in Cuero. So it was no surprise that getting up to speak to over two hundred women at The Women of Faith conference felt as comfortable as sharing with family. One of the most rewarding parts of this experience was hearing childhood stories about Andrew, listening to other inspiring life experiences, and just connecting through a hug or word of encouragement.
The excitement of this weekend had my creative juices flowing and I had a topic I wanted to explore with you, but since receiving some news today about a dear friend who’s just experienced a loss, I feel compelled to share something else first. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spouse, child, family member, friend, etc., loss affects us all at one time or another. Even if it’s not directly us, we feel the effects of the loss of others and in our spirits we want to help. I can relate with being on both ends of the spectrum, from the one who needed support to the one who wanted to support. Today, I want to share some of the ways I felt most supported during my season of loss. Everyone is different in how they want to be helped during this time, but I hope this post might give you some direction and insight into what the person experiencing loss might be needing.
- “Just Do It” – I appreciated when people just took the lead. If you’re thinking of doing something, just do it. You don’t need to ask, just make it happen. A lot of times you’ll get a text or a call saying, “Let me know if I can help.” Most people aren’t going to let you know, because when you’ve just experienced loss, you’re disoriented and you don’t know what you need. Think of the basics: food, childcare (if they have children), cleaning, etc. These are just a few things that need to get done daily that are hard for the people who’ve experienced the loss to actually think about doing. I really appreciated people bringing us meals, mowing our lawn, cleaning our home, sending flowers and gifts, and helping to watch Ellie.
- Less is More - When it comes to talking to someone who’s grieving, less is more. Let me help take some possible weight off your shoulders— there is nothing you can say that will make them feel any better, so just sitting with them is enough. Let the one who’s just faced loss talk. You can ask them questions, but don’t try to fix it, just listen… really listen (as in don’t listen to share, listen to understand). I personally didn’t care to be quoted Scripture at the time of my loss, but I was not offended by anyone who did share this with me. I knew that everyone meant well. Honestly, you’re just so overwhelmed after the occurrence that just having someone by your side is enough.
- Family Time- A lot of people want to be with their loved ones during a loss, so letting someone know you care, but also that you respect their space was really important to me. I always appreciate that those who stopped by seemed to have no expectation of us entertaining them or expecting to stay long. They all wanted to show their love and let us be together with our family. I can remember feeling overwhelmingly loved after getting over 100 plus Facebook messages, plus flowers, gifts, etc, after Andrew passed away. Immediately, I put the expectation on myself that everyone expected me to write them a thank you letter or personally respond to every Facebook message. My heart wanted to do this, but I was emotionally wiped out. Thankfully I released that expectation of myself and knew that the ones who were there to give without expecting anything in return would understand and not hold a grudge. Being with my family and taking care of family matters were my top priorities both during and after Andrew passed away.
I want to make clear that these are just my personal experiences and do not hold true for every single person. In fact, I would love to hear from those of you who’ve experienced loss. What did you really need from others during this season of your life? How were you and your family blessed during your time of need? The more experiences we share the more ideas we will have to help those going through this difficult time. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If you personally want to connect with me about the loss of someone you loved, please reach out via email at email@example.com to set up a complimentary coaching call. We are all in this together and can all learn from the stories of other’s who’ve experienced loss so that we might be even better supporters to those we love. Blessings!