Please don’t be a one and done

Published 3:32 pm Friday, May 3, 2019

By Jenny Filush-Glaze
Grief Relief

Perhaps one of the questions I field the most from friends and family is, “What do I say or do for someone that has just experienced loss?” My repeat answer is always the same — “Just be present.” 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of erring on the side of saying or doing the wrong thing versus dipping out, disappearing and not saying or doing anything at all.  And, what is even worse is when we find ourselves placing a mark on our obligatory checklist after we have completed a quick drive by for a viewing or have placed our phone call letting people know that we are available for whatever they might need and then silently consider our “job” done.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to guilt or shame anyone into becoming more comfortable with grief support, but I am attempting to encourage us all to “try harder,” and to not fall into the trap of being a supporter that is labeled as “one and done.”    

Most people share that they find themselves relieved after doing these things, that they have “reached out,” and “done their duty,” by checking in and letting their loved ones know that they care about them. However, if that is all that we do, if that one call or one appearance is the only acknowledgment we make, well then we are doing ourselves a disservice. 

Why? The answer is simple, it is because we are missing out on the opportunity to be the best and most complete supporter that we can be for one another. Nobody knows what it is like to experience the devastating pain of loss until they experience it themselves, and everyone thinks they have been the “best support system ever,” that is until they experience the loneliness of actually going through grief.

Speaking very humbly with the voices of the bereaved, they implore you to “not forget them,” and to keep open the lines of communication. 

Yes, they appreciate your calls, texts, visits — and again, once is better than never, but their healing journey becomes more complete when they have you walking alongside them. 

Let them feel your presence and encourage them to let you be there for them in whatever capacity they might need. 

Grieving people become very active in the battle against loneliness and thus anything we can do to pick up that armor and fight the hardships they are facing with them will become a gift that is beyond measure.

So in closing, please don’t consider your one token of “Do you need anything, or “just let me know,” the end all when it comes to providing support. 

We can do much better than that, and I am confident that by continuing to learn from one another, that we will.