Joy

The things I am thankful for in this season… (and some ideas on how to help someone who is grieving)…

Thanksgiving was always one of Ben and my favorite holidays… we loved having family and friends over and prided ourselves in inviting anyone over that didn’t have somewhere else to go. For us, the more people to attend, the better.  We enjoyed their food, their friendship, and the fellowship of people who we wouldn’t always get to spend time with.  As I reflect back on the past year, especially the past three months, I thought I would share some of the things that I have appreciated and been thankful for:

    • Cards and donations to the fund for my children: I have read and reread every note and have tried to write thank you’s for every gift… (this is an ongoing process as there were literally hundreds of notes). Money is NOT necessary. Even if you can’t send anything more than a short note to someone who is grieving, they will appreciate it. Include a memory of the person they lost if you have one, they will cherish it, most likely cry a few tears, and will savor it forever. {As a side note- this does not have to be done immediately, it means A LOT to keep receiving notes later on and helps the person to know that their lost loved one is not forgotten} IF you are praying for them, drop them a note to tell them, they will appreciate knowing they are remembered!
    • Visits from friends: After the funeral my house was a revolving door of overnight company for almost two months. It filled up the silence and kept me from having too much time to think and cry. Those people fed my kids, cheered us all, and kept us from getting lost in the grief for too long. If you can travel to be with someone after they lose a loved one, offer to do so (and follow through on it if they want you to)… it’s never too late. If you are local, offer to drop by and visit with them for a bit on days when they have nothing else to do. If they are like me, they will laugh, cry and be incredibly thankful. 
    • People offering to watch my kids so I could make phone calls: Those overnight guests were a huge blessing for me as the number of calls to make and papers to fill out has seemed to be never ending during this season. One day my sister in law showed up to help me go through Ben’s office to find his will and other important papers. It was a task that I don’t think my emotions could have handled alone. Ask them if you can help with calls, or going through paperwork, or if there is anything you can do to help! 
    • Meals: We received almost a dozen meals before the funeral and in the weeks following the funeral. I remember every single one and the people who brought them. I do not remember what I have fed my family outside of those meals (but I believe it is a combination of mac/cheese, fast food, and other things best forgotten). Almost all of those meals were from strangers, people who didn’t know us, but just wanted to bless us. Such wonderful servant hearts! And I am incredibly thankful for every person who stayed with me and just cooked dinner to feed us when I stared at the cupboards and couldn’t figure out how to put things together to make an actual meal. If you can’t take a meal, invite them over for dinner (we have loved having a reason to get out of the house), or send them a gift card (if Chipotle had a drive thru, we would have eaten every meal there the past three months).
    • New Friends: I have had several people I didn’t know three months ago reach out to me in the past couple months. They have embraced me and my children and have become some of my closest, most cherished friends. They didn’t know me before, but were not scared to reach out and be there for me in this time of need. Sometimes days go by without me hearing from anyone besides these new friends. They have helped to fill the quiet and have helped me forget the loneliness of the past year. Even if you don’t know the person grieving, take time to reach out. You don’t have to text them daily (although I have appreciated that J). They will appreciate just knowing you care! And maybe, just maybe, they are like me and desperate for a friend!
    • Routine Things: Every Tuesday since the funeral my sister in law has showed up to stay the night with me. I look forward to that night every week as I know she will show up to play games, keep me company, watch my kids if I am hosting Bible study, and she will always bring a treat for me (desserts are currently my love language). It helps to have something to look forward to. My other sister in law has scheduled a monthly game night at my house. I get to put my kids to bed, and hang out with adults in my own house without stressing about a babysitter. Schedule some time with them in the future so they have something to look forward to, whether it be a trip, a visit, or just a time to chat.
    • Remember holidays: This first year of holidays is going to be hard. I am thankful for the family and friends who have already reached out asking how we will spend those days and offering to help with establishing new traditions or by joining us in the old ones. If you know birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are coming, let them know you are thinking about them and that you know those days will be hard.
    • Bless them by taking some of the burden off: I am perfectly capable of mowing my own yard (and even enjoy doing it), but every week that it has needed it for the last three months (and some before that), my brother and sister in law have showed up and mowed it without asking me. If they had asked… I would have said no… because I don’t want to be a burden on people. But they don’t ask and I am thankful for one less thing to worry about each week! See if there is something you can do for them that will lessen their burden and give them time for the more important things in life!
    • I am also incredibly grateful for some military friends who have taken care of logistical things for me without me having to ask… and who have written and sent me to do lists of things I would have never known to do. I am eternally grateful for them taking the time to point me in the right direction. Because of it my children and I are financially sound and have a long list of resources that will help to provide for their education and anything else that we might need in the future.

 

Obviously this list is not everything that can help someone who is grieving, but it is some of the things that have blessed me during the past 3 months, and things that I plan on reaching out to do for others I know who are grieving in the future. If you have any ideas for things that have helped you during a grieving period, or if you have an idea of something you think might help, please feel free to share it in the comments!  I am sure others would love to know as well!

2 thoughts on “The things I am thankful for in this season… (and some ideas on how to help someone who is grieving)…

  1. One of my dear friends lost her husband to cancer 5 years ago. I was maid of honor at their wedding and every year since Ian has passed I still send her an anniversary card. Although her husband is physically not here, the day is still immensely special to her. I always want her to know that someone else is remembering with her and celebrating the love they shared.

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