No matter what kind. A loss is a loss and there is nothing easy about it.
Don’t ignore the big elephant in the room
Even though I have now been through this rough road I still don’t know how to talk to someone who has just suffered a loss. I’m sorry… I’m thinking of you… I’m here… All just seem like words and I just wish I could say something more. BUT. Just because you don’t know what to say- don’t NOT say anything. Acknowledge their loss. Hug them. Cry with them. Tell them you love them. Tell them how that person affected your life. Depending on the time frame (because it’s ever changing with time) in the beginning I don’t recommend trying to relate. I know that’s hard to do. We have all suffered a loss but in the beginning stages I didn’t find it helpful to know so–in-so lost their grandmother or a friend. Not that those people don’t matter and that your pain is any less than mine- but just for those moments focus on them and their loss. The person who they are missing. No matter the time frame know they are always thinking of the person who is no longer here. Especially a child. Over time make sure you let them know you still remember them, you talk to them or pray for them. Maybe that you do something in their memory. I can only imagine in 20 years ill still think of Makenzie every second. I’ll miss her just as much. Ill ache for her every day. She is my daughter. She was here and she was so real. And now she is gone. I hope that for the rest of my life she will still be talked about. She will still be thought of. I know I’ll never stop talking about her- For every birthday, milestone or accomplishment someone close to me does ill think of her and the fact that she won’t be here and I’ll never get to see her do that.
Stop asking… Just DO. Usually there are so many people who say they will be there if you need anything and ask to help in some kind of way but if your anything like me, you don’t want to “bother” others. You know they have a life as well and you don’t feel right calling them up at 1am just to cry. I know if I called any of my family and friends they would be there- it wasn’t that I didn’t know that- it was just because I felt I should handle this more on my own than bring everyone else down with me. The best support was pretty much pushed on me :) I didn’t ask. They just did.
*A dinner schedule was put together while we were in the hospital so we had someone bringing us dinner every night.
* We were given a small Christmas tree and decorations to make it more “Christmas-y” for our Christmas with Kenzie.
*After we were out of the hospital and home, my sister came every morning for 2 weeks straight and got me out of bed. She didn’t make me go do something but she did make me get up long enough to open the door for her. She would bring little goodies or ask me to come run errands with her.
*I had people plan activities, a double date, shopping, hikes and even trips. They would tell me when and where.
How to help from afar:
I don’t mean only if you live in another state but I also mean if you don’t know what to say and you don’t feel too comfortable coming around- or you want to help but don’t know what to do, here are some ideas that I loved.
- Send them a pizza. Bring them a goody bag. Bring them breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bring them a Dr. Pepper! These are little things that seriously mean a lot. You have no idea how much we appreciated all the goodies Ryan and I got in the hospital. We had a locker to keep all of our stuff in and we had to get another just for the treats people brought. We loved them! It helped so we didn’t have to keep running to buy something, it helped so we didn’t have to leave Makenzie’s side more than we had to. It helped to keep our visitors happy.
- This might be more of a personal thing for me but I loved when Kenzie was sent balloons. They made the room more cheery and brought so much happiness to her. Send balloons! I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t smile with a balloon.
- Have your little one or even you color a picture.
- I received some amazing gifts from so many people. Everything meant so much, nothing was overlooked and we treasure them so much. Some of the most special items we received were so MAKENZIE personalized. A necklace with her name on it, a bracelet with her initials, Ryan got a key chain, a charm with her picture in it, pictures of her... You don't have to spend much. Do something small.
- Even though you shouldn’t worry about them returning your calls, texts or emails DON’T stop doing it. It was always a boost for me to read a sweet text or email form someone even if they just wanted to tell me they are thinking of us. AND don’t be offended if they don’t respond to you. It’s not that they don’t appreciate your message. Go with the flow for that person. If you think your friend likes to talk on the phone and they are okay with that- call everyday- even just to say hi. To check in on them. If they don’t like to talk but text do that instead. I know when I was in the hospital I didn’t want to do either. I appreciated every phone call and text I got but I wanted to just be with Makenzie more than anything. I know there were some hurt feelings by me not returning phone calls, email or text messages but it wasn’t because I didn’t care.
I am only a year/13.5 months into this. I’m not far. At this stage I may have more better days but I also have lots of bad/egh/blah ones. I have many moments through every day where I just miss. I love to talk about her. I think I have those better days when I get to talk about her. I get to tell stories of her. I get to share her. I have so much to share. Even if it’s the same story over and over. I want to tell it over and over. I would ask your friend to talk about their loved one. Tell you stories. Tell you anything. Or just sit around, look at pictures and talk about whatever comes up. Do that always. There is never an ending to that.
This kind of ties into the long term one but I know everyone that has lost someone wants nothing more than for them to be remembered. They don’t want this person whom they love so much to ever be forgotten. They can’t continue writing their story and none of us want it to end. Remember dates! Some people think it’s better to not put much into a date but others want to do a lot for that date. Either way I think anyone would appreciate a simple- I remember and I’m thinking of you.
For anyone that has lost someone they need love. They need people around. There are times they need a moment alone but I don’t think you should leave them alone for long. They don’t know what to ask for. They don’t know what they need or want. Being on the outside you can be a light to help guide someone. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think of them differently. Don’t walk on egg shells.
Everyone is different so maybe these things won’t help the person you’re trying to help- and if they don’t- try something else. Do something else.