OK, one more thing and promise I’ll try to lay off the grief & loss stuff for a bit.
Dealing with loss is hard. It’s also hard to know how to help someone dealing with loss. Part of the problem is loss is universal. We are confronted with our own mortality when we choose to relate with the bereaved. And death sets up the most helpless of situations. It is irreversible. It’s not something most of us choose for ourselves, and certainly it is not something that those of us left behind wanted for our loved one. Tolerating that kind of sorrow in those we care about is tough. There is not a whole lot we can do to “make it better.”
Recently one of my friends went beyond expressing condolences or sympathy. She entered into the experience with me and allowed it to be what it was in all its helpless, hopeless awfulness. She said “I’m sad for you and I’m sad with you.”
That’s it. She didn’t try to fix it. She didn’t shy away from it. She didn’t just acknowledge it. She chose to be with me in it.
Because she was able to give me that gift, I had the strength to then share the same thing with another friend who also recently experienced a loss.
“I’m sad for you and I’m sad with you” should go on the list of good things to say when someone is coping with loss.