I’ve never experienced the heartache of losing a child; I’ve never known the emptiness felt from the loss of a spouse; but I will never forget the day my mom broke the news to me about the loss of my dear cousin. It felt as if the earth beneath my living room floor cracked wide open and swallowed me whole. Although the darkness of that day will never be forgotten, an unexpected light has emerged in the time since her death – I’ve learned what it’s like to truly grieve and walk alongside those who mourn for someone they love.
Support can come in so many forms. Although I am not always the most eloquently spoken person in matters such as these, I can throw together a meal in a pinch. The simple act of bringing a meal to a friend who just experienced a devastating loss or even providing them with a gift card for takeout goes a long way in extending your love and support. It won’t bring back their beloved, but it will be a tangible reminder to them that you love them and are there for them.
Speak their names aloud.
In the past, I always tried to avoid mentioning someone’s loved one who had died for fear of making them sad. I didn’t want to risk opening a wound that had potentially healed. The truth is, though, that those wounds never fully heal. No matter how much time has passed, your friend is still going to miss the person they lost whether it was their child, spouse, family member, or friend. If they would prefer not to discuss it at that time, they will tell you, but what we risk in never mentioning their loved one’s name is the idea that they have been forgotten. The sentiment of remembering and speaking aloud the names of the departed helps those left grieving to remember that their loved one’s life mattered and that they are, in fact, not forgotten.
Remember important dates.
This may sound a bit morbid, but I have a few dates saved in my personal calendar marking various losses that have occurred in the lives of family and friends. Along with those “loss dates,” for lack of a better term, I also have some of their birthdays sprinkled throughout the year, too. Every year since my cousin’s passing, I try to mark her birth date and death date by doing some act of kindness for others (just like she would always do) and then I text my aunt about it to let her know I was thinking of her and celebrating her life. To some, it’s a very small gesture, but I know it means the world to my aunt to realize that I haven’t forgotten my cousin’s life. Even just simply sending a text to someone on the anniversary of their loved one’s passing or on their loved one’s birthday to let them know you’re thinking of them can absolutely brighten what would otherwise be a very gloomy day.
Grief really is the great equalizer in life. Everyone has either experienced it already or will experience it at some point in time. I hope this post will inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out to someone, even in the smallest of ways, that has experienced a loss.