Sunday, July 15, 2007

How to Help a Grieving Friend

My July book for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge was How to Help a Grieving Friend by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I started to read Word Freak for my July book but it was just too long and very interesting in parts and not in others and I just can't finish it. So I'm going to have to pick a new book for my fifth one of the challenge, if that's okay, Joy? I know it's a challenge but with all that's gone on in my life this past month I just can't muster up the energy to slog through a book I don't really care for.

Anyway, funny that I picked the book I did when I made my initial list. I am the grieving friend right now. Probably less than an hour after I wrote my last post last Sunday about my crocheting, I got "the call" that I knew was coming at some point. My sister called to say my mom wasn't doing well. My mom passed away the next day, Monday, July 9. I actually read the book Wednesday or Thursday of this past week (it's a really short book).

I really liked the book and recommend it to anyone. It will help you know what to do and what not to do when someone is grieving. Stephanie lost her best friend and both parents within a short time of each other, but most of the book is how she dealt with the grief of losing her husband of 27 years 5 years later. So my feelings aren't exactly the same as hers, losing my mom is incredibly hard of course but losing a spouse is a whole other ballgame I think.

There is one thing she said not to do that I disagree with. She said "Skip inviting our family to organized family events for awhile. They are just too hard. We don't feel like a family anymore." I would just change that to something like please invite us but please understand if we don't feel up to coming. That way the grieving person can make the decision whether or not to attend something.

I learned quite a bit about what to do and not to do through my own grief this week.

-Send a card! Send a card. Send a card. It's something simple but means so much.
-If you don't know what to say, a hug and I'm so sorry is enough, it means a lot. You don't have to have any elegant words.
-Bring over a plate of cookies, a pint of ice cream, some simple meals like buns and lunch meat, anything little like that is appreciated. "Comfort food" was what we all seemed to crave.
-Offer to watch someone's young kids if they have any. I had some neighbors who came through for me big time with my 2 little ones. I can't thank them enough.
-Any little thing you can think of to bless someone is appreciated. My hairdresser not only came in early one day so I could have a fresh haircut for the funeral, but she didn't charge me for the cut and style. That was a huge blessing.

I know I have probably missed many opportunities to bless a grieving friend or family member. I feel so bad about that. You don't have to even be really close to the deceased or to the survivors, a card still means a lot. You may already know this but I guess I was pretty clueless - I always felt like unless I knew the deceased personally, I didn't need to attend the visitation and/or funeral. But I realize now that if I know one of the survivors, I should still attend for just a little while if possible, and if not, again SEND A CARD.

I hope you don't mind my putting my own thoughts out there relating to the subject of the book.


Joy said...


I know that you expected this soon, but I don't think anything can truly prepare you for the reality. My heart goes out to you and yours during this difficult time.

Thank you so much for sharing this book and especially your added thoughts. I truly appreciate all the insight you gave.


Lynne said...

I'm so sorry about your mother. I've been there. Hugs to you and your family.

Amy said...

I am so sorry. Praying for you and your family!