Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sharing Something ...

                                  picture from here

.... that many of you have probably read before.  But it's always good to read again .... and be reminded of it, just in case you come upon someone else who needs it shared with them.
And for those of you who've never read it .... you will, as always, relate to every line.

"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


  1. I wish I could have handed this out at my husbands memorial srvice! God bless who wrote this, because they could not have said it any better! Thanks for sharing this again for us!

  2. AMEN!!!!!! I wish I would have had this a year ago when my husband died so suddenly. I would have made flyers and handed it out to friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, ect.

    While I have experienced everything described here, I think my biggest issue was people telling me to call if I needed anything. I wanted to scream. Fortunately, there were those very few that seemed to understand and did reach out to me often.

    And obviously after one short year without my husband as opposed to the 31 years I spent with him, those around me expect that all is now good with me and my children. Go figure!

    Thank you so very much Janine!

  3. thank you so much for this clear message of what it is that widows really need to hear after the death of their loved ones.
    I too wish that people could read this and understand that what is needed is presence - be present with love.
    I am so tired of hearing "you look so good" as if I should look like shit in order to honour my husband.
    I do what i did everyday of my life with him, i get up, I shower and dress, do my hair and cosmetics, It takes twice as long because I cry often. But I do it as a sign I am not crashing and burning (even if sometimes I do).
    I don't know why I have to lay in the street sobbing for people to understand that because I look "fine" doesn't mean I am fine.

    I am not.
    I am grieving terribly everyday.
    Somedays I pretend (for moments) he is 'away' and will return just so I can get through a moment - like a room full of couples, when I am the only one there alone.

    It would be wonderful if more people could assume "we are coping the best we can" and just be there - really there.

    thank you Janine.

  4. Great post. This should really be given out at Funeral Parlors or a Memorial Services. It would be so helpful - for those that want to help but not sure how and especially for us widowers, maybe some family and friends would actually read it and try what's suggested. It's too bad we are the one's reading this. It's a year and half and I still feel so much of what I felt in the first few months, and am so tired of dealing with the comments - because if they really knew, I still hurt, I still cry, I still hate my life without my husband, I am still grieving. Yes its a year and am I am grieving for 30 years worth of love and memories and a history for more than 1/2 of my life with the person I loved more than anything or anyone else in the world.

  5. I truly thank you Janine for posting this. I am almost sixteen months past the day that my young children and I lost the most amazing man in our lives.

    For the past couple of months, I have been really struggling again after doing fairly good for awhile. Because I sort of understand the ups and downs of grief, I wasn't too worried. Until, family and friends started saying all these things about what's wrong with me and why am I going backwards and shouldn't I be past most of this since it has been over a year since my husband died.

    Then, I read your post. The tears fell and my chest felt the pressure of my breaking heart inside. I decided that my family and friends needed to read this and try a little harder to understand me even if it was sixteen months past the awful day. I copied your post and put it into an email and sent it out along with a few great pictures of my husband and a brief personal message.

    The response was amazing. My family and friends truly do want to help. They do love my kids and care deeply for me. They are just as lost and confused by death as I am. They miss my husband, and they miss me. They feel guilt over not doing more but at the same time aren't sure what to do. I forget that while I am reading this blog and others and even books on grief, they are not. They are a pretty lost group when it comes to dealing with grief. I have been too hard on them. Your post has brought my family, friends, and me back onto the same side. A side that is committed to fighting our way through the darkness of grief and finding our way back to joy. Although, it would be easier and less painful to cut me loose, I am forever grateful to those loving family and friends willing to hang on and ride these giant waves together.

    Today is a better day than yesterday, but it doesn't mean tomorrow will be even better. Again, thank you Janine.

  6. Thank you!! Thank you!! for sharing again! I'm a year and a half out and yet, still so helpful to read this!!
    Jenn W.

  7. Most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to care about this. I called one of my husband's friends 6 months after he died, one who said they would call and check and come do work if I needed it. He said he "meant" to but this,, and that, and this and that happened....I said, "it only takes 5 mins to make a call".....never heard from him. So many people like that. Bitter? Yeah...I am. I am not going to call them and say, just thought you might like to know how I am doing. Very hurtful. I guess I am a reminder of what could happen to them?? This has not made me more compassionate. Two years out....still miss him madly.

  8. This is great. I am reposting.

  9. My husband died of a sudden heart attack on our 25th anniversary the top of a temple in the Mayan Ruins...that was almost 14 years ago. I used to go to Widownet day and night, I was "lucky" to find a newly widowed woman who became my best friend as we went through it all together day by day. As time went by we met other widows and we have seen them come and go with a core group of 4 of us...we know how each other feels and that is more helpful than anything or anyone else. Your posting is a good one, Janine. Love lives on forever in the heart, but life is never the same. I took about 5 years to feel like I wanted to live for myself, not just my kids. But I did find the light inside of me and life is good...feeling the connection,Liz

  10. I'm glad I read this today. Thanks