'I don't know what to say or do' is what I have heard often. Honestly, neither do I. This is completely foreign to us both then.
I have tried to put myself in your shoes. Yup, it would suck to be you
around me too. Probably feels like walking on egg shells, afraid to say
the wrong thing, bring up the wrong topic, wondering if it's ok to
So I thought I would just share my thoughts at this stage of grief. I
hear it changes often as you get through the 'phases'. Maybe they are
unique to me, or maybe I can be a voice for others too. I don't know.
So, I'll start off what what NOT to say or do:
-Please don't use harsh terms like: dead, dying, grave and such. I can't
handle them yet. Passed away, resting place...these are softer words on
-Please don't tell me how difficult this is for you. I don't have the
strength to comfort you right now. Share with me your hurt and sadness,
but at the same time please recognize that there are few others who will
experience the same level of loss as I am experiencing in Brandon's
passing. I need to cry with you, but not be your shoulder to cry on
-Don't worry too much. I put my foot in my mouth more then anyone I
know, so if you feel you may have 'offended' me or said something
stupid, oh well, you're human. This is hard for all of us. I don't
expect perfection. It's the blatantly oblivious and habitually ignorant
ones that hurt.
-When I am crying or very upset (and I realize this is more unique to
me), please don't hug me. A quick squeeze of my hand, pat on the
shoulder, or short acknowledgement of my hurt is all I can take. Just
sit with me, hand me a tissue or cry with me. I know it may be awkward
for you, I truly am sorry, it's not my intention, but I'm just not a
hugger when I'm upset.
-When I tear up, which is often, and at the strangest things, don't ask
me if I'm ok. I'm not. Someday I will be, but it's not going to be
anytime soon. Again, just sit with me, hand me a tissue or tear up with
me. I may share what got me all salty or I may just keep it to myself.
What TO do or say around me:
-Just try to be yourself. You are in my life because I love you, and I
know your heart, and I know this sucks for all of us. Especially for
those willing to be around me, a shadow of who I used to be, at such a
-Tell me what's going on in your life; the good, bad and ugly, but just
be sensitive to what is going on in mine. Please use perspective when
discussing the trials you are facing. If you had just lost your other
half, and are now facing single mother and widowhood at 31, would you
want to hear the term 'My life is so hard right now' about things not
quite as finite as death? I'll be honest and say I have thought many
times 'I wish that was my problem.' By no means do I want our friendship
to become a one way road, but for a period of time I may be moving
slowly with hazard lights on. I do acknowledge what you are struggling
with as real and difficult, but please just consider sharing it with me
in an empathetic way.
-Don't be afraid to laugh and joke around. I need distraction from
grief. Brandon would never want me wallowing and refusing to find some
joy within loss.
-Forgive me if I am absentminded or not focused. My head is still
spinning, my world has just crashed down, and the person who stabilized
me is gone. It takes an amazing level of brain power to make myself do
anything, then add being a new mother to it all. I am in the ultimate
survival mode. And it breaks my heart when I realize I forgot to ask how
so-and-so is recovering or how that event turned out. You know I care
very much, and I hate feeling self-centered and out of touch with what
is going on in my friend's lives. It is still very important to me.
-Go ahead and make some decisions for me. And if you don't know, ask
someone close to me if they think this or that would be helpful. I can't
decide if I am able to shower today or not, so my head spins when faced
with decisions. I have accepted so much help and I feel like I am a
burden and inconveniencing everyone at this point. If it's on your heart
to 'do' something (within reason) :) , go for it. I thank you.
-When in doubt, just ask flat out. You know I'm a very direct and honest
person (to a fault sometimes!), so just ask. I'll tell you the truth,
and hopefully with grace. :)
We will get through this together.
I hope this does not come off as anything but an expression of honesty
with the intention of helping you help me, as many have voiced a desire
to know how to do. And this may change, and when it does you know I'll
be sure to let you know! Brandon always loved that he didn't have to
read between the lines with me. :)
Thank you for taking this journey with me, and extending me such love, support and grace as I navigate my new normal.