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Death has no Manual; Grief has no Timeline

One minute, he was exercising. The next minute, he was gasping for breath. Everything happened so fast and soon we were standing by his grave side.

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Young woman crying
Credit: Unsplash

Nothing could have ever prepared us for the moment the doctor announced the death of Jane’s dad. All we could say was, ‘He was getting better.’ As I write this, I still don’t understand why he died. One minute, he was exercising. The next minute, he was gasping for breath. Everything happened so fast and soon we were standing by his grave side.

It was the saddest day of my life. I had never felt so helpless before. Watching Jane cry and mourn the loss of her dad broke my heart into a million pieces. I remember that we found an old photo album of him and spent hours talking about the details in every picture.

All I could do was listen to Jane whenever she talked and hold her hands while she cried. Make no mistake, I cried my own tears too. Mr Edwin was different. He was a second dad to me. He had a smile and a hug for everyone. It was difficult to accept that he wouldn’t be around to celebrate all the milestones Jane and I had dreamed about.

By all definitions, this was a terrible experience but it taught me a great deal about how to comfort people going through a season of loss.

  • Sometimes, Silence is more powerful than words

I am of the opinion that we say can ever ‘reduce’ the hurt of a grieving friend. Rather than run the risk of saying things that can sound insensitive, opt for a hug or simply holding the hand of your friend. Sit quietly with them, listen closely, and let your presence bring comfort to them.

  • Show up and be patient

For any grieving person, the last thing on their mind is taking out the trash, doing their laundry, or worrying about how they look. In those moment, just show up and step in. Take out the trash, dry clean their clothes, fix the bedroom, and make them something to eat. At no point should you ever get impatient with them. There is no timeline for grieving and no one’s loss is the same as another person.

  • Don’t stop checking in on them

Grieving people “don’t just move on.” They need people to keep checking in on them.  Six months after the funeral, Jane called late in the evening and all she said was that she couldn’t stop crying. After she calmed down, she explained why she felt so sad and we talked about many other things.

There is no manual or timeline for grieving. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is something we’ll all have to deal with at some point in our lives. What matters in those moments is having friends or a community that can walk you on this journey.

** The names in the article has been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.

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