This year, my three closest friends lost their husbands at an early age. There are no magic potions that will help a grieving friend to come around quickly, in truth it is a matter of time that heals the soul and allows a grieving person to create a new routine. Often it takes a minimum of a year and sometimes more. A song on the radio can trigger the emotions and set someone back.weeks or even months. An injury or health issue can also trigger the emotional roller coaster that makes it harder to move forward.
In the very beginning, friends and acquaintances will tell you they will call and they do, but generally it is a short time, and then life returns to normal for everyone else but the grieving party. And then, the reality sets in!
For the person who has just experienced a loss, there are so many factors to deal with. They are overcome with grief, and other emotions as well. Anger, fear, solitude, exhaustion, mounting bills and mail to go through, legal issues, notifications to credit card companies, banks, and so much more. While the others go home each night to their routine, the grieving person goes home to a dark empty house and often no one to talk to or eat with. As the phone calls from others begin to wane, and invitations to go out to dinner are no longer on the calendar, a grieving person is out of their routine and now truly starts to feel a hole in their heart and often in their life.
Suddenly there is no meaning to each day.
As a life coach, I often tell people who have a loss, to try to smile on the outside with others and find one friend they can relay their confidential thoughts to. I advise them to see a therapist or life coach, or join a grievance group. In other words, to the outside world, show your smiles and try to be upbeat but keep the uncomfortable issues for a professional or close friend. I say this because after awhile, people do not want to be burdened with other people’s issues and problems. Initially these people are all there for you, but afterwards it becomes harder for them to include you in their plans with couples and other social events. The bottom line is that people want to be with people who are upbeat and fun.
I tell a grieving person to try to make plans with people they are most comfortable and with whom they can be themselves. Your closest friends are your “comfort food” but keep the closeness to just one or two. Remember, even they can get tired of trying to keep you from falling apart.
A grieving person feels alone, but only they can get themselves out of the box. I encourage them to make a telephone call each day. to one or more friends just to chat. Make a plan. After people stop calling, only you can put dates on the calendar. And remember, your friends will want you to call them too. They will get tired of always making the phone call. Invite your friends to dinner, brunch or for drinks at home as a way of saying thank you for all they have done. You are not a bother! In fact, it is comforting for someone who is grieving to make a phone call and actually speak to someone even if it is just for a few moments. As a life coach, I always remind the grieving person to ask about their friends and how they are doing.
The hard times are generally weekends, when the weekly work routine ends, and suddenly the grieving person has nothing to do. I remind my clients to be patient and give themselves time. They may not be ready to listen to “silly conversation”, or gossip. They may not be ready to laugh at jokes. Find people who you love and who care about you and briefly talk about the things you miss and loved about your partner. Write a journal and get the thoughts out on paper. Have a good cry and then go back to something you love. Perhaps it is an exercise walk, or a movie, or cook something that is comforting. Oftentimes, the grieving person cannot focus for long periods of time. Use this time to take care of yourself. Get a massage, facial, or go for a walk. Get a new hairstyle or change the color of your hair. Plan a routine for your day. Have a reason to wake up in the morning. Go to a gym where you can take a scheduled class. There will be people around you. Get rest and listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. In time, life becomes a new routine, because you are the creator. Start slow and listen to your feelings. There is always a loving shoulder that will listen and always a professional to help ease the pain.