by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC
Years ago there was a tv commercial for a product that spoke to the importance of support, which is where I borrowed my title from. As we grieve, support is necessary and helpful as we cope with the roller coaster effect of grief.
A group of widows met and began to support each other in their grief after the deaths of their spouses. They would share meals, activities, walks, and go to movies or bingo. After attending a support group, they continued to be supportive of each other in these and other meaningful ways.
“Support Can Be Beautiful” and necessary as we grieve
After my mom died, a cousin called me once a month for that first year. Those calls meant so much to me. My cousin allowed me, the chaplain, the grief educator, and the supporter, to grieve myself. And, I created my own support group with a good friend of mine whose husband died only 4 days after my mom. We traversed the path of grief, grieving our losses together and separately, and learning to carry our grief with us.
I often remind the supporters of the bereaved to call the bereaved regularly (even once a month). After the funeral is over beginning 4-6 weeks after the death, the bereaved are probably still dealing with some of the necessary paperwork, and they feel forgotten, alone, and the absence of their person who died. Remember them, call them, visit them, and offer to take them out to lunch. Check-in on them on significant dates, like the deceased’s birthday, or significant holidays or anniversaries.
For those who do not know what to say or how to be with a grieving person, simply reach out, call, and most of all, listen. This is not about giving advice. This is not about telling your own story (at least not right away). It is about being with them and not fixing their pain because you can’t. We all need to find our way through the pain, that is the nature of grief.
No one should have to suffer the pain of grief and loss alone. Sharing our feelings is meaningful to our healing. If support from friends or family is not available, seek a counselor, or support group or create your own support with another walking in similar shoes. Support can make a huge difference when facing a death or other adversity.
Loss, Donna Ashworth, Black & White Publishing Ltd., Edinburgh, 2002.