Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesday, where I share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better.
How to support the grieving: Don’t give up on your friends (Part 2)
What about all those friends who disappear after the first few months (or even weeks)? It’s very tempting to say: “Just let them go. Don’t worry about them.” “ This is one of those weird things that happen when people die.” There is a lot of truth in those statements. Many times our lives are better in the long run without some of these people. Death and grief does remove people from our lives and yes, that is more than okay. Yet, for some reason I also believe that we don’t need to give up on everyone who disappears.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we pursue those who disappear during those early painful days, months, etc. Nor am I suggesting we welcome back everyone who suddenly reappears after an “appropriate’ period of time (like that one year mark). We have to be wary of those who expect mourning to be over and that we can simply pick up where we left off. Those of us who have lost loved ones know this is not possible to do. Grief changes us. Coming to terms with the reality that life no longer exists as it once did is one of the hardest things we have to come to terms with; being pressured by others to do this impossible task should at all costs be avoided. So if the person sitting across from you can’t understand that you’ve changed the first time you reconnect, chances are pretty good they’re just not going to ever understand (or at least until they lose someone they’ve loved deeply.) Until then steer clear of these people.
However, there is still another category of friend. That is the friend who more than likely would have stuck around had they understood that being available and initiating contact would have been helpful, comforting and helped us to heal. Unfortunately, because we don’t culturally know enough about grief they didn’t know this was the better way. This does not mean that those who are grieving need to take on the responsibility of educating their friends. Their plates are full and it is up to the rest of us to do the educating- not those who are hurting. It’s one of the reasons I now blog 😉
But, as our grief becomes lighter and we become better at carrying it, it’s worth revisiting the question of whether or not we want to reach out to someone whose company we’ve missed. It’s better to know than not know whether or not someone is open to reconnecting and rebuilding a friendship, even if that new friendship will both different and similar to the old one. Core values remain the same, the rest really is just details.
The truth is some people drift away because they don’t know they’re needed or because they’re afraid they might make things worse. They disappear, not because they want to, but because they simply don’t know how to stay. These people deserve another chance.
Regardless, I know you’ll be careful and watch to see if your old friend does indeed understand that you’ve changed and that it’s okay. And if they don’t, then you’ll know that time spent with this person will not help you rebuild your life. Self-preservation must always be our top priority. Save your energy and lovely personality for someone who will see your value.
Bottom line: People disappear from our lives after the loss of a loved one for all kinds of reasons. We don’t always know what those reasons are and won’t until we are strong enough to ask those questions. Intuitively, we know which people we don’t want to reconnect with. Intuitively, we also know whose company we’ve missed. Trust that, when you are ready, you will be find the strength to step into that space of uncertainty with those you’ve missed. Remember to always put your healing first.
Giving up on our friends because they were at a loss as to how to help us is something we can fix. After all, they, no doubt, have missed us too.
Looking for “Widow Wednesdays #2- Don’t give up on your friends (Part 1) click here
To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here