It’s been almost four years since I lost my younger sister, Dinah. She passed away at the age of 27…much too young to leave this beautiful earth.
My sister felt this world was unbearable.
It collapsed on her.
She couldn’t breath. She couldn’t live.
If you don’t know what that feels like, then count your lucky stars. Many have been to that point. Few admit it. Some go through with it like my sister.
I don’t blame her anymore. I’m not mad at her for choosing to leave me, our family, the life that she had. I can’t say that I understand it. I guess I’ve just accepted it.
In a few days I’ll celebrate her 30th birthday. I might even make her a cake and let 30 balloons into the air. I’ll watch them as they float up and above. I’ll watch them as they move over the mountains and disappear into the sky. And as I squint to see how far they made it, I’ll thank God for the 27 years that I shared with my sister.
I’ve not only lost my sister, but I have been through a miscarriage, and I just recently lost my sister-in-law to breast cancer. Unfortunately, I know grief.
I know it’s hard to love someone who is grieving. You don’t what they want…what they need…their actions may confuse you. You’re scared to say something wrong and scared to say nothing at all.
It can be different for everyone, but, overall, I think humanity is very similar. We have basic needs and when someone that we love dies, we all need similar things.
Things You Can Do For Someone Who is Grieving:
1. Send Them a Hand Written Card
I still have every card that was sent me after my sister died. We tend to minimize things like this, but to the receiver it could mean so much. To know that someone is thinking about them and praying about them…well, it could get them through that moment, that hour, that day.
2. Bring them a Healthy Meal
A nutritious meal is so important when you are going through depression and loss. Your body is being abandoned, it’s an emotional mess, and the hormones are raging. A healthy meal can bring the spirits up and warm the soul. I love this free website Take Them a Meal. You can coordinate meals for someone and other people can sign up to bring meals too.
3. Clean Their House or Hire a Maid
Picking up the house and keeping things organized is not important to the person who has lost someone. Just washing a sink-ful of dishes could feel like an enormous task. If they have kids, laundry, and other household chores, then keeping a clean environment might be nearly impossible. Go over and help them or hire a maid to come for a few weeks or months.
4. Understand Their Perspective
When someone close passes away, it can, literally, change the way the world looks through their eyes. Understand this and empathize with it. Everything in life now compares to what they are going through. Be careful what you say and/or complain about around them. Everything seems incomparable to their circumstance.
5. Be There for Them (if needed)
But don’t be overbearing. Understand if they need space. Sometimes they want to talk about so-and-so’s life. Ask them about it. As someone who is grieving, their greatest fear may be the fainting memory of that person. Talk about their life and let them cry, laugh, scream in anger…whatever they need to do.
6. Be Selfless
My husband is a perfect testimony of this. He poured out his life for me during this dark season of my life. Not only was I grieving the loss of my sister, but I was a (2nd time) new mom. I had a newborn, a 2 year old, and I was overwhelmed. Life came crashing down on me and without my husband I am not sure how I would have survived. He cleaned, cooked, took care of the kids, took care of my family, and was a shoulder I cried on daily. He never did anything for himself. He was always there and I knew I could rely on his strength to pull me through.
Don’t offer advice. Don’t offer promises. Just sit there, grab their hand, and listen. Look them eyes. Don’t be afraid of their grief. Listen and love them.
8. Go Ahead and Invite Them
Don’t assume that they don’t want to be a part of anything going on or planned. Let them decide if they are up for a crowd or a party. Don’t leave them out…but don’t get hurt if they say no. I remember a few times I wish I would have been invited. I might not have gone, but the gesture to invite me would have made my day. It would have let me know that people are thinking about me.
9. Be Yourself
Don’t change yourself for your friend or loved one who is grieving. If you used to make them laugh till their peed themselves, then keep it up. If you used to be physical with them and give them lots of hugs…don’t stop. Be yourself around your friend…that is who they love!
Remember that grief has no timetable. It may take someone a month to get through the worst of it, but then it could take another person a year. Be sensitive to that.
If you want to offer more support, here are a few resources that I love:
- Pruned: Blossoming Through Life’s Difficult Seasons (where to buy)
- Rebuild From Depression: A Nutrient Guide (where to buy)
- Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss (where to buy)