Apr 10 2012
When someone close like a spouse passes on, I guess it’s really a test of faith for the individual. Having gone through this myself, here are some dos and don’ts that I thought might be helpful to pen down, since Evelyn asked me to guest blog this for her April project.
Writing is kinda cathartic to me I realize, which is probably why I blog myself. So here’s my two cents on this grim topic and hopefully, if you have friends who happen to be in the same situation, you can make it easier for them.
1. If you’re a close enough friend, do offer to talk about it openly over a coffee, beer, or at their home when they feel like it just to let them get it off their chest. I’m generally a very reserved person and talking isn’t something I cherish much, but the few times I was out with a close friend and was able to just get things off my chest, gave me some comfort from the enveloping silence that is encompassing my life. I reckon this will be so much more important to most people who need to verbalize their thoughts, so do give them an outlet to do so.
2. Offer to spend time with the person as a distraction. Go shopping, go for a game, go travel. Any distraction is great to get the mind off the sadness. Thinking about it for 24 hours is tiring and sends you further down the spiral. I guess the caveat to this is that the person has to be up to it. Different people grieve in different ways and maybe everyone just needs some time alone to get their head right first. But you can’t sit around at home forever, so at some point a distraction is good.
3. Seek solace in religion. Death is the opposite of life and can only make sense if you start to engage the divine. Pray for them. Accompany them to church. Give them inspirational verses. All these may allow them to find God and possibly some solace. I know I found my sanity in it.
4. Offer to babysit. If they have kids or loved ones to be cared for, it can be mentally draining if they can’t even stop for a moment to grief. We all need our timeouts. More so in a difficult period. Otherwise you just feel shackled and it makes things a lot worse. I was blessed to have two weeks of quiet when my in-laws took my kid out for a trip. It was really helpful.
1. Going back to the office was kinda awkward as people you bump into in hallways and elevators ask the dreaded “How are you?” Yes, they mean well and just want to exchange some sympathy but seriously, what am I supposed to answer? “I’m alright” is the best I can think of and I try to break the silence with the “Oh well, that’s life” kind of shrug. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I do wish that people would just ignore the whole episode and go right back to inane chit chat.
Then there are those who are savvy and try to avoid the above and ask immediately “How is the kid coping?” Which then irks me ‘cos I feel transparent. So I guess you can’t win either way, but maybe skipping the subject will be a good thing if it’s not a heart-to-heart talk.
2. Do not remind them of death. It sucks. I remember we played some stupid game in the office that someone made up and we all had to pick a random slip of paper that had a vocation on it. People picked up things like woodcutter, magician, etc and I picked up the undertaker. ‘Nuff said.
3. Do not trivialize the situation. I know the person didn’t mean it but I did have a conversation where it became like “Oh so-and-so also died of blah blah blah and well it’s common nowadays.” Well we all know people get sick every day and people die every day, but when it finally happens to you, it IS a big deal. People are sensitive, more so when dealing with loss.
That’s all I have for now.