There are plenty of directions on birth!
No one gives directions on death.
It is not as fun.
Here is my new learners manual on the subject.
You are welcome to use it because some day you will need one…
Learners Manual on Death
(Or at least for the one’s staying behind)
1. DO MORE: When I tell you my loved one has just passed away, your instinctive reply is, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But here is something to add when you say those words: Touch me. Put your arms around me and hug me. If you don’t feel comfortable, do it anyway. If that is too much closeness for your comfort then touch my hand or arm and don’t let go right away. Do one thing more that connects you to me than only “those sorry words.” I am hurting and need human warmth. I am sad. I feel alone and lonely right now, and touch is the remedy.
2. SLOW MOTION: Life does go on but not for me–right away. I am in slow motion as the world is on fast forward. Be patient with my brain and my emotions for awhile. Maybe even a long while. I am in a fog. I am trying to adjust to earth life without my loved one taking up that space they once did. There is a lot to deal with around death that isn’t about my loved one. Distraction is necessary and sometimes good, but don’t forget this is really all about an actual person who died and is gone. I am mourning them gone and out of my life. It is my loss. That won’t take a few hours or days or perhaps even years to get over. I may never get over it!
3. REMEMBER: When you talk to me and ask me how I am, please ask me to tell you something I remember or love about the person who just passes away. Please let me reminisce. I don’t want to forget them! I want to talk about them. One thing I have been doing to help this for me is write in my journal one or more memories that I am thinking about each day about the deceased. That is a strange word…the deceased. No, it’s my mom–once a human, my friend that was always there, now an angel.
4. HONOR: If you notice I am gloomier than normal and don’t seem to find much joy in life that is alright for some time. I want to honor my loved one and engaging too quickly back into life makes me feel that I am being disrespectful. It feels strange and uncomfortable.
5. SOOTHES: Allow me to do the mundane things of life which are routine and normal for me. This soothes me. Especially allow me to move at a slower pace. That makes me feel safe. Don’t make big changes! Don’t plan a big trip or do something completely out of the ordinary to “get me out of my mood.” I am not ready. I want to wrap myself up in a blanket and hibernate. I will be ready in the future but not just yet. Don’t make me in charge of anything big or give me gifts…it is all too much for me right now. I am dealing with a change that takes time to process!
6. REST: Let me rest. I am emotionally exhausted.
7. COMFORTS: If I don’t act hungry, possibly comfort foods will soothe me a little.
6. SLOW DOWN: Letting go is a process and should not be hurried. That goes for my loved one’s things too. I may not be ready to clean out the closets or even throw away food that was eaten by them. Everyone travels at a different time frame to the steps of grieving. Allow each family member or friend to go through the process in their own time. Allow me that because I am going to do it anyway.
7. TALK: Children need to be talked to. Silence makes them more afraid. Explanations of death can be a sweet bonding moments. But allow me to tell my children that I am sad and feeling a hole in my heart. They can help me feel better. It is important for them to learn strategies of coping. This is best with a little communication, not ignoring it.
8. WEARY: Check in with me often. Write me a little note. Come over even if I tell you I am fine and don’t want company. Go with the flow and don’t overstay. I am emotionally exhausted and weary to the bone. But I need you to notice me and don’t leave me alone too long.
9. BLAH BLAH BLAH: Don’t overdo with the cliche’s or joke too much. They divert the emotion but after awhile they begin to grind at my nerves and I get sick of you.
10. STORIES: They say TIME heals. I want to remember. But I know the most important thing to do after my grieving has ebbed is to turn around and walk back into life and love it even more. Hug more, listen better, slow down and notice, enjoy simple things, feel more grateful, trust in the Lord, expect miracles, and keep a wiser perspective on what is truly important. Death scares the heck out of me. But death reminds me about something precious too, I am still alive. I am still here to offer the world something unique! Remember the sweetness of past memories but move on and get writing my own wonderful story and don’t forget to listen to the whispers of those who have gone on because they are watching and helping me along that journey.
11. COMPASSION: When you tell me you lost your loved one. I will say I am so sorry. But I will hug you because my heart understands how you feel, the hole is still there from my own loss.
12. TRUST: Trust God. He made up death. It’s really opening that door back home to HIM where I began.