Sometimes the answers to the most ticklish questions while you are grieving the loss of your loved one one can be really simple. Two problems that can face mourners can be solved by simply becoming a card-carrying griever. I’ll explain. Here’s the two problems and the simple solutions that you might try:
- Having people consistently say, “If there’s anything I can do, just give me a call” and not getting your requests answered.
In one of my support groups one widow explained how every time she walked a visiting well wisher to her front door they would say the parting phrase “Now if there is anything I can ever do for you, just call and let me know.”
The problem was that every time she tried to call and let people know what they could do for her, they were unavailable or unable to fulfill her request. The inventive widow decided she wasn’t going to let others get away with empty promises anymore. So she came up with a plan.
She placed a large bowl by the front door filled with index cards that had helpful tasks written on them. Things like “Babysit the kids” or “Pick up some things for me at the store.”
Then every time she escorted a visiting well wisher out of her house, and they offered, “If there is anything I can ever do for you, just call and let me know” she would point to the card bowl. The flustered well wisher would then be obligated to draw a card and fulfill the task and his or her promise.
- Facing all your questioning well-wishers when you go back to church or to work after taking time off to mourn the loss of a loved one.
Grief and Trauma Therapist Dr. H. Norman Wright has the answer to a mourner being tired of going to church services and to work and feeling obligated to answer endless questions about how the griever is doing or how things are. Many mourners have always loved going to church and work until they feel forced to tell their story and condition multiple times a day. These grievers say, “I’m already going through enough in my grief and pain and I don’t want to have to relive the experience multiple times to satisfy other people’s curiousity.”
To solve the dilemma and ease the grief burden, Dr. Wright suggests creating another type of card. Each morning the mourner should get an index card and write a summary of his or her feelings, condition & progress. Then when the mourner encounters questioners during time at church or at the job, they can smile and hand the card over to the questioners to read.
Those grief cards will save the time and pain of having to review recent grief experiences. In addition grievers will discover quickly who was really interested in how they are doing and who is simply interested in getting juicy details.
These are just two helpful hints from card carrying grievers. Make your grief simpler by creating cards or simple solutions of your own device.
Also remember: Just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean that you have to give them an answer. You’re grieving. You don’t have to try to meet everyone else’s needs and curious questions at the expense of your well being. You need to be gracious, but your first obligation is to take care of yourself and to grieve in a healthy, healing way.
Politely tell them you appreciate their concern for you and bow out of answering their questions.
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on Amazon.com.
Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.
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