Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Can I Do?

That's another thing people say to the grieving. "What can I do to help?" "If there's anything I can do..." and other variations.

Here's my advice. Don't ask. If the people you are talking to are anything like me, they don't know what day of the week it is, or if they left the refrigerator door open, or even if they have pants on. So don't ask, just do.

Walk out in their kitchen and clean it, do the dishes, wipe the stove.

Bring a meal. Not the first 3 or 4 days, but two weeks later and two weeks after that.

Rake the yard. Take their dog for a walk. Cut their lawn.

Be there. Show up. Let them talk about anything. They may talk about the loss, it's the 500 lb. ghost in the room. They may not.

If they are really your close friend, stay close. They are standing in a furnace, get as close to the door as you can stand while still considering your own needs.

If they are more casual friends, don't force something that isn't there, but do what you can to support them in practical ways.

Two people stand out.

Borepatch showed up last Friday night and Saturday to be with me. We sat by the woodstove, drank a little (we're older now) Glenfiddich, and for three hours he let me talk. A friendship like this is a gift.

Dan has been a rock. He's local and been there every day. There must have been times where it appeared I was insane. A friendship like this is a gift.

My Aikido community, my co-workers, friends from the gun club, our church community, all doing what there is to be done.

It cannot be fixed. It must be endured.


Guffaw in AZ said...

Being there is indeed a biggee.

Take Care.


Borepatch said...

It was my honor to be there for you.

drjim said...

Thank you for answering the unasked question.

Many of us "mean well", but really don't know what to do or say.

Sometimes just silently being there, or being "on call", can make a world of difference.

burt said...

In Judaism, the first week afterwards is called "shiva". The bereaved are not allowed to cook, clean, or leave the home. Food is brought in, cleaning and other chores are done for them, and they are not left alone. In some communities, someone stays in the home with bereaved overnight.

During the next 3 months, the restrictions are lifted but the bereaved should not be without a daily visit from someone.

As ASM noted, the bereaved may not be of sound mind during this time, and it is up to friends and relations to pick up the pieces. Jewish custom recognizes this, and the customs are meant to allow the bereaved to recover in their own time.

As ASM noted, sometimes it's enough to just be there. Even in silence, there is healing.

And a good whiskey sometimes helps too.

Spikessib said...

One of the best things anyone did was pop over and clean and polish all of our shoes so they would look good for the funeral. It's funny how something like that can be so important.