Monday, August 06, 2012

Saying Good-bye to Someone You Love

Yesterday at church I learned that my neighbor and friend had passed quietly away in her sleep. I was stunned, and devastated as I realized that my beautiful friend Jennifer was gone. She has been such an amazing woman in my life the past five years. Although I do not typically show emotion in public, I couldn't help but weep when I heard.

I gathered my family and we rushed back home so that we could be available to support her family. We ADORE her family. Many of her children are the same age as mine. They are the best kind of kids and are an influence for good to so many of our neighborhood. I stood at the edge of my driveway full of heartache for her family praying that they were going to be all right.

She had five beautiful children whom she adored. She had a loving husband who she was madly in love with (and he with her). She had suffered many, many years but always had a spirit of love for others.

As the day progressed, our family wept as we remembered our own horrible day when we lost our son, Joey. And we thought about what they might be feeling and how helpless we felt to help.

There are no magic words to make losing someone easier. You find yourself saying words to comfort others when you most need to be comforted. You worry about other people's reaction to the loss and you want to find some way to soften the blow.

You wonder how you could possibly sleep your first night away from them. How you're supposed to get up the next day and feed your kids, get them dressed, and go about daily tasks? You wonder how the world moves on and forward while your heart has been ripped from your chest.

You move from the deepest kind of grief to trying to cope for your kids. In the days when you should be able to curl up and grieve, you must plan a gathering for others. You must make choices for a funeral when you have no desire to be planning any kind of event.

You wonder how to ease the pain for each of your children who are different and distinct and experienced their own relationship and have their own pain. You hide your grief when they need you most and bury your sadness when they need to cry so it doesn't overwhelm their own.

You have to tell people over and over and over again they are gone. And you can hardly say the words out loud. You can hardly believe yourself that they will no longer be walking through the front door. That you won't be giving them a hug any more. That you won't be hearing the words, "I love you again." It is incomprehensible.

I watched my daughter weep for them yesterday as she understands in a way no one should. And I watched over her carefully to see how she was holding up. She loves her friends and still struggles to communicate her own pain over losing her older brother.

What can we do for them?

We can simply say we love them and tell them that we are so sorry. We can take in meals when they need it and give them space when they don't. We don't make the moment about us EVER. We simply open our hearts and our homes for when they need to talk. We don't attempt to make it better but simply love them through it. We just need to be there for them and we watch carefully to see how we can help.

We were so loved and supported through our own grief. I only hope I can do for them what so many have done for me.

We love you, Jennifer, and we'll be here for your family no matter what they need! Please give my boy and brother a big squeeze for me. And may you finally have the rest you've so needed.

15 comments:

  1. Jen so sorry to hear this! Your words put everything into perspective! Sending hugs to Jennifer's husband and children and to you and your family too! You will be in my thoughts!

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  2. Such beautiful and heartfelt words. I'm sure they will value your support because you know how it feels to lose someone so close. It must bring back such grief and raw emotion for you guys too. Sending you all hugs and strength.

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  3. losing someone is never easy.

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  4. So beautifully put Jen and all so true. Loves and prayers are with you and Jennifer's family.

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  5. jkbronson7:56 AM

    I'm still in shock. It just doesn't feel real. As I said on my FB page, Heaven has a new angel, but the world has lost an amazing woman. I will miss her so much. Thanks for this great post.

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  6. Heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. I'm so sorry to hear this. I will keep her family in my prayers. And Yours. I will hug my family extra tight today.

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  7. Beautifully said. My heart aches for her family.

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  8. You have given such beautiful advice! I am very sorry for your loss and for the loss that your friend's family is now experiencing! It's an experience that nobody can ever be prepared for. Also praying for comfort, strength and understanding for all of you!

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  9. I am so sorry to read this! My heart goes out to them, and to you and your family, as it brings it all back from losing Joey. Sending lot of hugs!!!

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  10. Oh Jen, I am so sorry to hear that you friend passed away- I hope her family feels surrounded by love as they face their unimaginable loss. You are a great friend- ((((big hugs))))

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  11. I'm so sorry for your loss--I had tears welling up in my eyes as I read your post. Thanks for the advice on how to help someone who has lost a loved one. You and her family will be in my prayers...

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  12. What an incredibly heartbreaking loss for you and Jennifer's family. I'm so sorry. You will all be in my prayers.

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  13. I saw this quote and thought of you:

    "Respect the power of grief. Know that it can affect you psychologically, physically, and spiritually in intense and sometimes surprising ways. Stay gentle with yourself."
    "There may be a small place within you that remains hollow. Value it. This quiet abiding feeling may be one of God's ways of sustaining the connection to your precious loved one".
    ~Karen Katafiasz "Grief Therapy"

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  14. Awwww, makes me choke up. Losing someone is never easy, of course. Many hugs to you. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

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  15. So sorry for your family, and theirs. So devastating. And thank you for posting this, so that I have a better idea of what to do or say when someone else is grieving.

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