I feel so badly for my friend- she lost her mom. I don’t know how to support her without making her feel worse. Should I say anything at all? Death is the elephant in the room. We are here, breathing and getting to have another day, not so for her mom. I feel so awkward and trivial saying anything that refers to the situation. I don’t have words powerful enough to repair this tragedy.
In the past, I have not been good at supporting friends when their loved one dies. Since I have been meditating and opening up spiritually- exploring fear, love and awareness, I have turned a corner. Helping a friend grieve is not about me; it is about the person at the center of the trauma. That sounds easy but fear has always gotten in the way and left me less than helpful to others. Fear comes in when I think I need to control the situation and make it better or different. The shift comes in setting aside how I see the world and supporting my friend’s view.
When I get sick with the flu or some other annoying illness thing that I will eventually get over, I get crazy in my head. When I hear everyone else in the house going about their business like nothing is wrong- laughing, talking, EATING- I want to scream at them to stop having such a great day and quit with the fun already. I resent that they get to be normal. I know they love me and are taking care of me but the small Me resents the normalcy going on around me. Losing a loved one is so raw and hard. Wouldn’t a mourner look at others (who want more than anything to make things better) and wonder how they get to go on living normally? No black hole for others today. That perspective is where I get hung up in fear. Fear that I will make it worse, not better. Fear that I cannot make it better at all so I am therefore rendered useless to the situation.
Today, instead of trying to form words, I am physically and mentally present, not saying much and giving good hugs. As it turns out, this is better for her. There are so many people saying things that there is no need for me to clog the air. I feel way more connected to her pain and am okay with not trying to fix it. Removing pain is not possible. Helping her move through it is my role.
Other people aren’t wired the way I am and respect for what they need is most important. That follows in life and in death, doesn’t it?
I wish I could send a questionnaire to friends on how they would like to be helped through a death or trauma. Such as: 1. Do you want to be left alone? 2. Do you want me to hug you? 3. Do you want me to sit quietly with you or are we going to cry our eyes out? 4. In the dark? Outside? 5. Do you want to have a lot of people around for a long time or do you want to fly solo?
I’ll keep meditating and maturing. Through that process I will focus on removing myself from the equation and source the answers from within. In turn, I will be a more supportive friend in life and in death.
If you are interested, Phil from Australia has some great words on how to transform fear into love. LINK HERE