Most of the time when a loss happens,we don't know what to do. The main complaint I hear is that people say or do the wrong thing or just disappear. But today is about the opposite reaction - Too. Much. Help. Go away!!
A friend of a friend just tragically lost her longstanding boyfriend to a sudden heart attack. Everyone seems to have rallied around her and offered support - food - fundraising - all the usual avenues. But for her, it was all too much. She was overwhelmed and over-stimulated and exhausted and could not take another word or thought or vibe from another human. Things were somehow wrenched out of her control - a gofundme without her permission - more food than could fit in her freezer- a memorial her BF would not have wanted - friends who refused to leave her alone because they were afraid for her personal safety.
Now, these folks were all well-intentioned and caring. But a Griever has often had enough happen over which they have had no say. It is vital that in the mourning process, they be heard and honored and understood. Now her memories of this period will have added stress and anger, rather than feeling supported.
When loss occurs, whether sudden or foreseen, the emotional toll is devastating. I always say it's like you are feeling every emotion in the world, and yet you are completely numb in the exact same moment. Help lower that energetic vibration and provide calm.
Here are some suggestions:
- Folks ask me all the time what they can do - and one of the most important themes is to LISTEN. You have to know the person well enough to know how they are wired.
- If you are concerned about leaving them alone, have one person with whom they check in and then everyone else can use that point person to spread the word that all is well.
- Financial things are tricky and have energy. Don't assume what folks need, because as this example shows, there may be arrangements in place or personal wishes you don't know about.
- Come up with ideas and ASK. Would it help if I did an airport run? Clean these dishes? Walk the dog?
- And make sure food is spaced out so it doesn't overwhelm facilities like fridges and sinks, and doesn't spoil before the family can eat it. The you have wasted your help and they have a new task to deal with.
Keep in mind, too - many of us have an introvert side, for whom being around too many people shorts us out very quickly. So the stress and energy and grief and shock are too much already - then you add More People and Stuff and Decisions on top of that to the point where we cannot even think straight. Some folks just need quiet and calm, to sit on the floor, to breathe and ground.
These processes are challenging enough and you don't want to be the person who adds to the mess, but helps clean it up. Do not assume all Grievers are the same - and don't put your need to help over what that particular person needs. More peace is better for all concerned.
Be present - don't crowd, but don't abandon.