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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'm Not Fragile, or How To Talk To Me While I'm Grieving

There are a lot of articles and blog posts out there about what to say/not say to someone who's grieving.  Here's a good one from One Fit Widow, and here's another good one that Kimmy shared from Diply.  I'm going to give you my version now, keep in mind it may not apply to every grieving person you know.  We are all unique.

Disclaimer: This is not directed at everyone in my life, so please don't over-analyze anything you've said to me.  I have received wonderful support from many friends who let me be real and make me feel normal, at least for a little while.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I don't know what I would do without you.  #FBG


I'm Not Fragile

Sometimes I almost want to laugh at people who apologize after they either say or do something that brings up a memory, or even just say something about dying in general.  You don't have to handle me with care.  I'm already broken - shattered really - so you can't break me any more.  I get it, sort of.  If I'm functioning okay for the moment and something changes and my emotions show, maybe you think you did/said something wrong and should apologize.  But it's always there even when I'm hiding it, and if I get overwhelmed and let it out sometimes that's not actually a bad thing.  So don't apologize.  You didn't hurt me and you aren't making it worse.  Just let me be real for a moment.


I'm Not Okay And That's Okay

Seriously.  I've posted this before.  I'm not going to be okay for a long time.  I'm not supposed to be okay.  Life feels broken and strange to me now.  Eventually this will become my new normal, but that's a couple of years away.  I'm not the kind of person who can sit around doing nothing and waiting until I feel better, so yes you see me out and doing things I enjoy, but that doesn't mean I'm not still struggling. You can ask me if I'm doing okay if you want to, but don't look so disappointed when I say no.  If you don't want my real answer, then just say hi and keep moving.


I Like To Talk About Kevin

Don't be afraid to say his name.  If you knew him, tell me a story about him, especially if it's something I might not already know.  If you didn't know him, ask me about him.  A few weeks ago I was at an event with some new friends, and one asked me how Kevin & I met.  Just like you would ask any wife about her husband.  That made me feel so good, and I loved telling her.


No, Everything Doesn't Happen For A Reason

Oh, this might be my biggest irritation.  If you say this to me you might get a long rant back, or I might just say okay and walk away.  Just depends on how much energy I have at the moment.  I know you probably mean this to be comforting, but it's not.  My life is not some Hollywood movie where Kevin as the Hero sacrificed himself to save everyone else.  We live in a fallen world full of sin, disease, and sadness; a world where bad things just happen.  I am working on accepting this.  If you tell me Kevin died for a reason when I see plenty of other people surviving heart attacks, plenty of other overweight smokers still walking around holding hands with their wives, I am either going to get really angry or I'm going to ignore you.


But God Will Use This To Bring About Good

This is what I think you actually mean when you say things happen for a reason.  Kevin didn't die for some grand cause.  But God knew Kevin was going to die and so God will use that to bring about good things for those who love Him.  Do you see the difference?  I have a friend who is also a runner, and we used to talk about how we worried about our husbands' health and we wanted to find ways to encourage them to be active with us.  After Kevin died, my friend's husband started eating better and running with her.  He's lost almost 60 pounds and now runs faster than she does.  Kevin didn't die so that my friend's husband would live a healthier life.  To say that would imply that God values one man over the other, or that God is just capricious and mean.  I reject both of those ideas.  Kevin died because bad things happen.  But God knew it would happen and so he placed my friend in my life so that He could use what happened to bring about something good.


Let Me Know If....

Yeah, you're not going to hear from me.  When I think of the friends who's support has meant the most to me over the past months, it's the ones who call/text/message and say "Let's do this thing on this date" and I say yes and we plan it.  Or the ones who just show up at my door at just the right time.  It's truly an effort just to get out of bed many days.  I lie there still half-asleep trying to not wake up because I know once I do it's going to hurt.  If I can't even get out of bed on time, do you really think I'm going to take the initiative to plan a get-together?


You Don't Have To Do, Just Be

You can't fix it.  It's not fixable.  Kevin's going to stay dead and there is no way to avoid the pain of that.  I just have to move through it.  God will bind up my wounds in time, and He still has a plan and purpose for me, but all that takes time.  You can't make me feel better, but I don't expect you to.  That isn't your job.  Just be present, be there with me sometimes.
He [God] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3
Don't worry if you think you have done or said something I mentioned in this post.  I know it's all from a place of caring, so it's all good.  I just wanted to get this out there so you'll know.

And whether you know Kevin or not, I hope you will enjoy this video his friend Darrell made.

1 comment:

  1. I know I've said this before and will likely keep saying it: thank you for teaching me. I imagine that - like so many areas of our lives - it's not easy to ask for the things we want or need. For that alone, I see you as one of the most courageous women I know.