Connecting with those mourning: so simple and so complicated at the same time.
Before the Death
We knew my mom was dying about a year before she actually passed. We haven’t figured out if this was truly a blessing or a curse. It was a blessing from the standpoint we had time to say good-bye and make some more memories and begin mourning before she passed. It was a curse because ALS is an awful disease and it is hard to watch someone you love die slowly.
For a lot of people, it was difficult for them to connect with us while we started mourning since we told very few people outside of a few extended family members and bosses. We would have avoided telling bosses if we hadn’t needed time off here and there for trips to doctors and then as the disease progressed, time with the visiting nurses and taking care of our mom. But that’s us, we’re private; we don’t post everything on social media as soon as it happens.
But of the few extended family members we told, they did make an effort connecting with us. They would reach out, sometime daily, to see if we needed anything and how things were going and sometimes just a reminder they were praying for us. This was a comfort even before the passing.
During the Death
One of my aunt’s made the trip to Vermont and showed my sister (who then showed me) techniques on how to move Mom on the bed, when Mom became to weak to move herself. And how to make the bed with Mom still in it. And so many other helpful tips. Not to mention prayers and sharing memories and visiting with Mom. This was all useful, valued, and treasured connection with those of us mourning. We were seen, we were valued, we needed help and she answered.
Family members visiting during this time also picked up. An aunt not seen for years showed up, other family members made plans to visit in person, or called on the phone and visited that way. Messages were sent electronically. Connection, comfort, love.
A lot of tears flowed during this time. A grief for what was already lost, of what would be lost – not just in sharing the big moments and asking for advice, but also the small conversations and triumphs. Of just doing life together.
After the Death
I am so thankful the two extended family members took on the job of contacting the rest of the family for us. Calling the visiting nurses association, telling them, then them transferring me to hospice, and telling them and then still needing to let other family members know and my boss – those were hard conversations.
And then the condolence messages began pouring in. By electronic means, mostly, but the ones I treasure are the cards people sent. People who took the time to not only handwrite out a message, but to take time to purchase a card, address and stamp and envelope, and put the envelope in the mail to me and my family. Some cards are just “sorry for your loss” and some cards are two pages of handwriting saying how much my mom meant to them. The personal stories and memories, that is connecting with those mourning…with me.
Connecting With Those Mourning
While there are different ways to connect and different ways people mourn and different ways people feel heard and appreciated, those people who took the time to reach out with a handwritten card, I now feel more connected to than I did. Not that I don’t appreciate the electronic messages, but they could have sent that while on the toilet. Not quite the same level of sympathy involved.
A gentle touch;Tara K. Harper
Kind words –
By such small things
Are lives changed.
So if you’d like to connect with someone, whether they are in mourning or not, try following the tips listed in the free guide – it’s very useful!
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