Kissing The Face of God

Kissing The Face of God
Kissing the Face of God

Friday, April 19, 2013

what to do when someone's spouse dies

I read this on another blog and I hope they forgive me for reposting their ideas here but I thought they were perfect ideas and that's all I have the strength to say today. Here is the post:

 here's what I have to say about what friends can do for a friend in grief.

I'm going to divide it into different time frames.

First ...... immediately upon hearing about the death:

Go to your friend's house.
Take several friends with you.
Answer her/his phone.  Take messages.
Call her/his family/friends to deliver the news.  No, no one wants to do that, but good friends will. 
Mine did.
Get food.  Accept food that's brought.  Stock up on paper goods like paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic silverware.  It will be needed.

Go through all of her/his photos and find some to copy and use at the funeral/memorial service.  A very good friend of mine did this with Son #1.  She made several posters with pictures of Jim, us, our family that covered our family over the years.  Son #1 made a slide show for the service that is still on line to this day.
This friend also set out several framed photos of Jim from different times in his life.  Thankfully, we've always taken a lot of pictures.
(Which is one piece of advice I'd give you now ...... before you get to this point.  Take pictures.  Lots of pictures.  All of the time.  And make sure that you, the picture-taker, are not always the picture-taker.  Be sure that you're in pictures, too.)

One friend took care of all things medical.  We had a lot of those things since we weren't sure why Jim died of what he died from ...... and were told that my children would have to be scanned for the rest of their lives, to make sure they didn't die from the same thing.  So my friend (who was a nurse, which helped) took care of all of that.
And she did a fabulous job.

Friends drove me wherever I needed to go.  For a few weeks.  Whether it was to the funeral home (never let them go to the funeral home alone), the attorney's office, the bank,  the funeral of one our district's high school principals (who died the day before Jim did) ...... I always had a ride.

Friends took turns staying with me.  At night.  And overnight.
I have no memory of how many of my friends spent the night with me, in my bed, but I know that they did.  And I can't thank them enough.

As days turned into weeks, they took turns coming over in the evenings, to just be with me.  They stopped spending the night, which was how it should've been, but they stayed until I was ready to fall asleep.
And I loved/love them for that.

Friends took care of all of the plants/flowers that were sent.  I couldn't take care of myself, let alone a bunch of potted plants.  I tried it for a week, but then felt totally overwhelmed by the sight of them.  So I called my friends and had them come and take them out of my house.
They planted some in my yard, which was nice.

As time went on, friends still took turns coming over.  Friends still took turns providing meals.  Friends took turns taking my children anywhere they needed to be, or keeping them busy.

Some friends wrote thank you notes.  I did not.  And that's the number one piece of advice that I can give:  make sure that your newly-widowed friend doesn't feel the need to write thank you notes.  I think that's the most barbaric practice that we, as Americans, have.  Who sends flowers/a plant because of a death, and then expects a thank you note?  If anyone does, tough crap.  You don't deserve a thank you note because you didn't send the gift for the right reason.  It's horrific to have to write someone and say "thank you for sending flowers/providing a meal because my husband died".  I have been/and am horrified when I've received such a thank you note.  I didn't send flowers/provide a meal with the intent of receiving a thank you note.  And I don't want the grieving person to even think about sending me a note.  The thought of that makes me nausous.

So those are the things the came to my mind.
The things that friends can do.

The biggest thing you can do is to just be there.
That's it.
It's simple.

Be with her/him.
Sit with her/him.
Follow their lead.
Watch TV with them, if that's what they want.
Bring funny movies/TV shows.  I needed to have my mind preoccupied and I needed to laugh.

Sit with them in silence, if that's how they sit.
Sit with them in tears, if that's how they sit.
Sit and listen, if they talk.
Sit and talk, if they listen.

Follow their lead.
But just be there.
For as long as you can.

That's what they'll remember.
That you were there.