How you can help me

I didn't write this, but I wanted to share it:

"How You Can Help Me"
Please talk about my loved one, 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 to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don't abandon me with the excuse that you don't want to upset 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. When you tell me I am strong, I feel that you don't see me. I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm grieving and that's different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after my loved one's death. Don't think that I will be over it in a year. For I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for our children, 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.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with a tear. Both are okay.

I don't have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and alone. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don't make it worse by telling me I'm not doing this right. And remember, I was a capable adult before his death and I still am.

Please don't tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start dating again. I may not be ready. And maybe I don't want to be. And besides, what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren't. Whoever comes after will always be someone different.

I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your 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) Bring food or a movie over to watch together.

(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 this difficult day.

(c) Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may say no at first or even for a while, but please don't give up on me because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you've given up then I really will be alone.

(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 judge me now - or think that I'm behaving strangely. Remember I'm grieving. I may even be in shock. I am afraid. I may feel deep rage. I may even feel guilty. 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 makes me behave this way at times. And please don't tell me you know how I feel, or that it's time for me to get on with my life. What I need now is time to grieve. 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.

--Author Unknown


6 months

Taken 4 days before Jer died...

Wow, 6 months. That can't be right. Didn't I just see you? Kiss you? Didn't we just have lunch together as a family without a care in the world? No that can't be right either - an eternity has passed since then, an entire lifetime. Yesterday and forever, at the same time. Today I keep looking at the clock and reliving that day...counting down the minutes of when I learned of your death. At 5:20, I looked at the clock and realized that at that time 6 months ago, you were already dead and I didn't know it yet. I burst into tears.

I've gone back to read the letter I wrote you at the 2 week mark over and over again. Every word is fresh and still relevant to how I'm feeling now, 6 months after losing the best thing that ever happened to me. I still can't believe this is reality. There's just no getting it through my head. Who knew that forever could be such a painful word?

This day has been plaguing me for weeks now. Thankfully, the anticipation of reaching this milestone was worse than the actual day. But that's not to say it hasn't been difficult. And it came in such an untimely manner, combined with our son turning 3 months yesterday, all this craziness with the house, sickness sweeping our family, me throwing my back out, Mother's Day - I just can't handle much more. I've been able to find so much gratefulness in my heart lately for all the blessings in my life, but it doesn't overshadow how low I've felt these last few weeks - how empty my life feels without you - no matter how much I fill it with other things.

The last 6 months have been a blur. But I know you've missed so much. Or more accurately, I've missed so much. I've missed you here. I miss having someone to share life with. Not only do I mourn the loss of my husband, but also my best friend. There are so many things I have stored up to tell you that no one else would understand or appreciate the way you would.

I survived my first Mother's Day without you. I was going to write a post yesterday, but I didn't want to overshadow other people's joy and make them feel bad for celebrating. I'm just not up to celebrating anything anymore. But, motherhood is something that I'm struggling with so often these days. It's hard to celebrate when I don't feel like I'm doing a very good job. I love our babies, without a doubt. But I can't be everything they need. They miss you so much and there's just nothing I can do to fill in the gaping hole you left in our family. I know if you were still here, we would have celebrated with a lunch after church at a restaurant of my choosing and you would have let me nap the afternoon away while you watched the kids. And we'd all have family time together at home and you'd give me a massage before bed. That used to be 'my perfect day.' I just want to be able to give them the world, and I can barely get them dressed in the morning without unraveling. The title 'single mother of 3' is not something I ever wanted and still makes me sick to my stomach to say, but I know those 3 little miracles you left me with are my greatest honor in life. They are your legacy and I want to make you proud by raising them with every ounce of love I have left.

I've come to realize that there isn't one aspect of my life that hasn't been affected since you left. I thought I could keep some sense of normalcy, but I literally have to start from scratch. I feel like a completely different person than I was 6 months ago. And I don't like who I've become. Insecure. Selfish. Sad. Lonely. Purposeless. Tired. Cynical. Pessimistic. Careless. Most of these are not adjectives I was familiar with before.  I feel different in my own skin, like I'm not really supposed to be in this skin - it's uncomfortable. Every thing that's happening in my life right now is a result of your death. Friends, work (or lack thereof), house, schedule, routine, travel...all of it.

I guess I just thought that it would start getting easier to breathe by now. But every day brings a new wave of grief, and new facet I never expected. The most frustrating and unexpected is how difficult I find it to concentrate. I can't retain information, I lose things, I forget things, I don't remember things people tell me. It's so hard to organize my brain...part of the reason I haven't been writing much lately. There's just too much going on all the time, so it's easier just to mentally check out for awhile.

I just really miss you. And no matter how many times I say it, it's never enough. I miss your smile, your humor, your ability to make me feel complete. I miss watching you play with our children, I miss watching them light up when you come home. I miss your advice and the way you kept me grounded. I miss your teasing and horribly inappropriate jokes. I miss your presence - I can literally feel the absence of body matter you took up, like something is off balance in the universe, atoms floating around looking for the space that you no longer fill. I miss your presence in the way that it brought me peace and made me feel safe. It's amazing how much of this I was unaware of until I lost you, how vital you were to my existence. I miss being your world, and I miss you being mine.

Everything just really sucks without you here. I'm trying to keep it together, but if it doesn't start getting easier soon, I don't know if I'll be able to keep this up. I still can't look into the future without wanting to crumble - this will be a very long road without you walking beside me. There are moments, even days, when I feel brave like I can get through this. I know I can. It's the wanting to that's harder to face.

I love you, babe. And I can still feel how much you love me and are taking care of us. Please stay close to us, guide me and help me find some purpose. I'm praying that the next 6 months will be easier than the last, but I fear it might be too much to ask for. Just know that I can't wait to be with you, so I'm holding on. I love you forever and always.


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