January 29, 2011 in Features

Seeking support in time of grief

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar
 

Dear Annie: My husband died suddenly at the age of 46. For the first few months, you’re in shock and have lots of life-altering decisions to make. Simple tasks become overwhelming. I expected friends to be there to help, but I found out through talking with many widows that this is not the case.

I have always tried to be there for my friends, listening to their problems over a long period of time, helping with packing and moving, home repair projects, gardening, hobbies, etc. So why is it so hard for them to figure out what I might need help with?

I know some of my friends simply don’t know what to say to me, but it hurts that all communication stopped. Grief takes time to work through. Just because it’s been two months doesn’t mean things are all right.

Everyone is there for the funeral, but not after. Could you offer your readers some suggestions of ways they could help a grieving person? – Wisconsin

Dear Wisconsin: This is a question we get every so often. Many people are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, but support and contact are appreciated. It’s perfectly OK to say, “I don’t know what to say.” It is important to listen without judging or telling the bereaved person how they should be feeling. Everyone handles grief differently.

Here are some suggestions from the American Hospice Association: Shop for groceries or run errands; drop off a casserole or other type of food; stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests; help with insurance forms or bills; take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry; watch their children or pick them up from school; drive them wherever they need to go; look after their pets; go with them to a support group meeting; accompany them on a walk; take them to lunch or a movie; share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project).


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