The untold story of Home Alone

Published 2:05 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Silence is loud.  I have been told that many times by people who are in the midst of their grief journey and are simply trying to fill the “quiet” with constant activity or interactions with friends and family.  They talk about the importance of having things to do and places to be, that having a purpose or feeling needed helps them face the loss that has become a stranglehold on their heart.

But what about those who are not as comfortable reaching out to others?  What happens to people who are physically unable to get out of their bed or are unable to find the strength to fill those quiet spaces or who shy away from the activity because it is simply “too much”?  Those are all good questions and things that we should try to take into consideration a bit more when we are looking for ways to be supportive of those who are experiencing loss.  Too many times I have come across people who are devastated and lost, not only from the pain of losing their loved one, but also because it feels to them as though they have been “forgotten” or even “thrown away” by friends and family that appear to disappear during the time in which they need them the most.

However, keep in mind that there are those who prefer the quiet, the peace and solitude that being alone brings.  Sometimes individuals truly just want to be alone in their grief and are determined to carry the weight by themselves and are simply not comfortable expressing feelings with others.  Perhaps that is why supporting those who are grieving becomes such a difficult task- because it almost feels like we are walking a tightrope, constantly in a state of indecision and uncertainty, not sure what might be helpful or what could prove to be harmful.  In that case, the rule of thumb should be to at least “offer” and make an attempt to reach out and offer support.  True, you may be turned down but that does not mean that the individual does not appreciate the fact that the effort was made and that you have shown that you remember them and wish to be supportive.

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Most times, people are open to receiving support, however it comes in waves.  This is why providing support can be confusing because they may wish for your presence initially and then they might try to push you away.  Or, they may thank you for calling or for the invitation to lunch, decline your offer of support but then a few weeks later wonder where you have been and why you haven’t called.  Please keep that in mind when you are aware of someone who is grieving- that sometimes they aren’t sure of what they need or what could be helpful at any given time, but that there are moments when it is very clear how much support they do need but are unsure or hesitant about asking for help.

Nothing hurts my heart more than knowing that individuals who are desperate for human contact or acknowledgment of their loss are suffering alone within the confines of their home.  I feel confident that as a community we can do better- that we can identify ways in which we can be more supportive and helpful to those who are in need of our kindness, show empathy towards what they are going through, and that we can minister to the lonely and the brokenhearted.  Together we can make a difference.