As I sit with my breakfast, humming baby monitor, and a fresh cup of coffee, I can’t help but wonder how in the world that I should write this post. I will probably just tell you my thoughts and later rewrite it in a different manner, but I think that we need a little advice on how to handle someone who is grieving. Baby boy is taking a nap, daddy bear is asleep because he had night shift in the ER, and mommy is a little annoyed!
I recently was told that some of my writings throughout the past year made me seem depressed. Well… you got it… I was depressed! Now was I in depression, no, but was I depressed, yes. Whatever being “depressed” really means. My baby girl died in my arms, yes I held her while she took her last breath, so please do not dare say “wow… Kari seems depressed” or “different” unless you have experienced this. Where is the grace to grieve in our culture?!
One of my biggest struggles in the last year and a half is people playing the comparison game and saying really stupid things to me. If I am being harshly honest, I feel like people gave me about a month to really grieve, and then they either pushed me away or put me in a box, and neither were very helpful to me at all. With of course, the exception of some who loved me so well.
My heart here is not to be on a rant or to seem mad, but to help you as you walk through grief with someone who you love. I want to share a few ideas and thoughts, and hopefully you never experience loss like this or know someone who does, but if you do, here ya go…
1. Please do not compare losses. If you lost a grandparent or a parent at the age of 80, please do not tell someone who has lost a child, teenager, or young adult that you know what they are feeling. I am not diminishing the loss of an older person, because I have experienced such loss as well, but it is just plain different. It is normal to bury your parent or grandparent, but not your child.
2. By all means, give them some time to grieve, but time does NOT equal space. Again, I feel like people rushed to our side and then quickly ran fast in the other direction. Run to people who are grieving! Show up at their door not just for days or weeks, but for months and years and cry with them. Bring a treat and sit on their couch and ask them about their loved ones. Skip the dinner party with them and bring to-go dinner and play cards with them. Laugh, cry, do whatever they need. Give them time, not space!
3. Do not push them into counseling or tell them they need medicine a week after their loss. Like really!!!! You are numb for a loooonnngggg time, and I do not feel like while you are numb that those things do much good. I am not against either one, but I found healing in other areas, so just give them a little grace to see what helps them heal.
4. By all means please do not say comments like:
- Everything happens for a reason.
- God did this because YOU could handle it… a.k.a “I sure as heck do not want to handle it!”
- You will be stronger because of this.
- No one could love this child/person like you can.
- It gets better with time. OR Time heals all wounds.
- He/She is better off in heaven anyways.
- I know someone who has gone through the same thing, here is their number, you should call them.
Yes, people mean well with these comments, but I promise if you don’t have anything to say to this person in your life, then plainly just say, “I do not know what to say, and I am here, and I love you.”, it goes a lot further than hurting them more with your words.
The list will continue to change and evolve as my grief continues, but for now this is what I have for you! Instead of trying to “fix” or “change” this person, just let them be what they need to be. As always, there are times you need to step in and push them a little to get out of the house or finally show up at the dinner party, but when someone is ready to do those things varies from person to person.
If you have not been there, then just love them. Grief is different for everyone, and even though we all experience grief, some see it in much worse forms than others. When that happens, go there with them, love them, and give them time, but remember… time does not equal space!!!
Lastly, for me just because I had another baby quickly after does not mean my grief is done. It’s a life-long process that changes you and shows up all the time. I know that I will grieve my baby girl until I am in glory and can see with my own eyes the big picture.
Grief changes you. Vow to take the long road with your friends.