*The "bones" of this post came from another widow's blog, but the words were so true and real that I had to adapt it for me and post it on my blog. This post is NOT for the grieving, but for those who want to help the grieving.
Please talk about Steve even though he is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need you to talk about him, too.
Be patient with my forgetfulness, my mood swings, and my anxiety. My sharpness is dulled from grief. I won't remember anything that's not in writing. Get comfortable with my emotional ups and downs. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Nothing feels secure in my world, so overlook my agitation over things that don't bother you.
Don't abandon me. You can't catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."
Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I feel only if you really have time to find out.
I am not strong. I'm just numb. While I will continue to live, I will not recover from this loss. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm grieving and that's different. For I am not only grieving Steve's death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for our family, the places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same.
Don't assume that I will be over my grief in a year. In fact, everything I've read says that the second year is the HARDEST. I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget Steve and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. Steve is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with tears. Both are okay.
Please don't give me unsolicited advice. When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and alone.
Please don't tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start dating. I may not be ready... And maybe I don't ever want to be. Steve is not replaceable.
Please don't talk with me about "getting on with my life." My life is going on. I've been forced to take on many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.
I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your hugs. I need you just to be with me, and I need to be with you. I need to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.
Please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I'll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. So, in advance, let me give you some ideas:
(a) Don’t let me go to lunch alone on Sunday after church.
(b) Send me a card on special holidays, our wedding anniversary, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on these difficult days.
(c) Ask me to join you for a movie or dinner or other social gatherings. I mostly sit at home alone on nights and weekends and would greatly appreciate being included.
(d) Understand how difficult it is for me to be surrounded by couples, to walk into events alone, to feel out of place in the same situations where I used to feel so comfortable.
Please don't be alarmed when I am frighteningly out of sorts. I am not going to drive my car off a cliff or take a handful of sleeping pills. On top of my grief, I have huge responsibilities and decisions thrust upon me that literally knock me off my feet. Some days I am just shell shocked. I am afraid. I am overwhelmed. But above all, I hurt. I'm experiencing a pain unlike any I've ever felt before and one that can't be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes.
Don't worry if you think I'm getting better and then suddenly I seem to slip backward. Grief ebbs and flows. Don’t try to understand it (I certainly don’t), just accept it and love me through it.
Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding. And remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss - when you need me as I have needed you - I will understand. And then I will come and be with you.