In just 39 days I’ve learned so much about grief and it’s living, breathing process. It’s ALWAYS there like a rude friend that won’t take no for an answer. It sits beside you and walks with you everywhere you go. Grief is a dick. But like anything hard and painful it’s here to teach you.
I’ve been astounded at the number of deaths just in this 39 days starting with my Evan. Daily I see my friends posting about their losses. I started a group about 2 weeks after Evan passed called The Deafening Silence on Facebook and people are joining every day, sharing their pain. I knew this day was coming, but seeing it really here is pretty shocking. I talk about this day in my book, “Answers” (it’s free on my site too in PDF) in the chapter on the Future near the end of the book.
Most know that my sign from Evan was the number 10. And he left his body at 3:33pm on March 2, 2014. Ever since, he’s been sending 10’s and 3’s to thousands of people. It’s pretty awesome. My house closed finally yesterday on 4/10 at 3pm lol. Yeah…hi Evan. And when I got into the car as the clock changed to 3:33 he put Bastille by Pompeii on the radio. This song is very special to me because the day of his Celebration of Life, Brenna and I were running around getting food and drinks and it came on. I had it pretty well tuned out answering people on Facebook and Brenna said “Jamie, listen to the lyrics!”
“And if you close your eyes, does it almost seem like nothing’s changed at all” WOW…so I did.
“And the walls came tumbling down…” Evan always admitted he had walls up when we first met and became best friends. He once said “Be patient, one day I’ll just take them down and grab your hand and we will just keep walking on our paths. Right now we are on opposite sides of the wall going in the same direction and sometimes we can reach over the wall or find a hole and put our hands through-but soon the wall will come tumbling down.”
The last day of his life they did. So you can imagine why that song is special to me. Some of the name of the song isn’t showing but I grabbed a screen shot:
So I knew he was with me-celebrating the end of 4 years of hell with the house. It was in foreclosure forever and then I found a way to pull it out and sell it. He would be so excited. He did a lot of work to help me get it ready.
So something I’ve learned this past month. And I don’t think I would have truly understood it if I hadn’t lived it is that when it comes to grief you can have too much support. Not in the sense of true support. Those that will hold space for you and sit quietly or let you vent. Those that “check in” without asking for a reply. Those that come and make food, clean for you or make sure the pets and the teenagers are doing ok. That kind of support is amazing. There’s a thing that I call supporting the supporter lol. Basically it’s someone that doesn’t know you overly well but cares. They really do! So every day they send notes or text asking “How are you today?” or “Are you ok?” or “How are you feeling?” The first 100 times it actually makes you feel pretty good. And I answered as many as I could. Then yesterday I got up and realized I’d been answering that same question all day every day for over a month! I was extremely burned out on it. And it got me to thinking. Why do people ask you that? Isn’t it obvious that you are a mess? That you are hurting? That you are doing the best you can to deal? I don’t think they think of it that way. I know I didn’t. But today I think a whole different way.
If you truly want to offer someone your support, offer it in such a way that it requires no work on their end. I actually had a friend tell me that when her child was given a morbid diagnosis and she was dealing, she had a friend tell her that she wasn’t paying enough attention to the friendship. Just WOW. I’m astounded at how some people think. Now, bear in mind I’m not talking about your closest friends and family members. Just friends you know or people you work or go to school with that really don’t “know” you but want to offer you something. So how DO you offer support to someone hurting?
1. Ask yourself if what you are doing or saying is truly an offer of support and not curiosity or a demand on your part. For example, the friend that says “You need to get out of the house. I’m picking you up and we are having coffee at 10 am Friday. Be ready.” Um…did you ever stop to think I may have zero desire to go out of the house right now and I haven’t washed my hair in a week? Then you think. That’s exactly why I’m going to force you. Bad idea. The better way would be to say “Hey, I care about you and I just want to tell you that if you ever need to talk or just be with someone I’d be happy to be that person for you. In the meantime, know I’m loving you and offering all the support I can for you.” THAT is saying I love you without strings. (Again, this does not apply to closest friends or family members.) Or when you are asking “How are you?” or similar questions, ask yourself if you already know the answer. Instead say something like “Hey. You cross my mind a lot during each day and I just wanted to say I love you and I’m here for you if you need a friend. No need to reply-just sending my love.” THIS feels great to the person grieving. It’s loving and kind and supportive without requiring work on their end. If you ever go through this you’ll totally understand.
2. Imagine you are on the other end. I know this is hard if you’ve never suffered a major loss. But try. Your head is spinning, you cry all the time, you can’t eat or sleep for weeks and you think your life is over missing that person. The LAST thing you need is someone constantly in your space-always texting and messaging and then feeling hurt if you don’t have the strength to answer. That’s just honest. My friends “check in” every few days and have let me know all I have to do is say the word and they are there for me. I love this! I’m perfectly capable of reaching out when I feel I need someone or something-and I do. But these are friends that need nothing FROM me. They truly just want to be there and offer support. It’s overwhelming when 50 people are clamoring at you several times a day. At least it is for me. Maybe it’s that inner people pleaser in me, I don’t know-but I feel bad if I don’t reply. But it’s a frustrating situation because you KNOW they care about you and each one is just trying to offer love. But sometimes it can be too much of a good thing and you end up exhausted.
That said, learning to grieve and learning to offer support to those grieving is an intricate and constantly changing and moving process. Love is love. Just make sure when you offer it you aren’t offering it for YOU. That you are truly offering that person a gift, not a gift that comes with strings. We all want to feel important to others in our lives, but not at the expense of their well-being. We choose our friends and not everyone will be a friend. Some will be lovely people you know and care about but you aren’t telling them your deep dark secrets.
SO many of you have been so incredible. The little gifts arriving in the mail, notes, posts on my wall-incredible and they make me smile nearly every few minutes. This is GOOD! So I guess what I’m saying is that if you truly want to support someone that isn’t in your close circle, do it in such a way that they feel loved & blessed to know you, not exhausted by you. Harsh a bit I know but honestly I never knew this until now! I’ve sent a ton of texts and notes asking “How are you today?” with the best of intentions, never realizing I was probably one of 15-100 asking the same question. And the answer is going to always be the same. I’m shitty. I’m sad. I’m hurting…but I’ll just say “I’m coping.” or “Its a process” or “Good” because I just don’t have the energy to offer more.
I love you guys and this journey is hard. Knowing we have others that care makes it so much more bearable. Thank you to everyone that has reached out and offered love.
This is just the beginning… #EWM333