Grief has power. But so does love. Even more so. –Unknown
In 2013, after a seven-year battle with colon cancer, Amy lost her husband, the father to her three beautiful girls, and her best friend. Rich was the man who knew how to make everyone laugh, who made everything seem light and fun, and who could talk to Amy about everything. He truly was her best friend, and losing him changed Amy’s world forever.
When Amy and Rich first learned of his diagnosis—Stage IV Colon Cancer— Amy was four months pregnant. She remembers feeling “total despair” and wondering “how could life go on?” And yet, she also knows that she “wouldn’t trade my experience. We grew so much together. Learned how to live in the moment and let everything go. I surprised myself with how much I could do.”
Through all the grief and pain, Amy also remembers all the love she felt during a very difficult time. The love, power, support, and connection she felt to her family and friends who helped support and care for her family in the face of an unimaginable loss.
When it comes to supporting people we love, we all want to do the right thing. Say the right thing. Be the source of comfort and strength we know our friend or family member needs. And yet, it’s surprisingly difficult to know what to do or say when someone is grieving. But it’s important not to give up, or let a fear of doing the “wrong thing” stop us from doing the right thing when it comes to serving those in need.
For the loved ones ready and willing to help, Amy graciously provided us with these five suggestions for offering meaningful help and sympathy…
1. Show up:
For difficult appointments, to babysit, to sit in silence or scream at the wall, don’t be afraid to be there for all of grief’s beauty and mess.
2. Dive in:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid of “making” someone cry. As Amy reminds us, “we want to cry!” Dive in and accept all the stages of loss and healing.
3. Give time:
Set aside time for a text or a phone call, even if all you do is talk about the latest terrible movie you saw, or what funny thing your kid said at school.
4. Give meaningful things:
Amy’s husband loved all things orange, so she cherishes the scrapbooks, gifts, and cards she received in his favorite color. Thoughtful and personalized gifts are physical anchors that are so vital when someone finds themselves weathering grief’s storms.
5. Don’t ask, deliver.
Bring over dinner, send the flowers, bake the cookies. You don’t need to ask permission, just love freely and trust the instincts that tell you to pick up an extra pizza or spring for the “good” candy at the store.
Loss is part of the human experience, but our relationships and learning to love those closet to us are also a vital part of life’s journey. So when grief and loss finds someone you love, remember—Be there. Be present. Don’t ask, deliver. Love.