This is the question I've grown to hate. There's a different intonation when people ask this question during a normal situation versus an emotional one. I've had people ask me this since August 2021. SO, I thought I might share some insight on how I've felt during this grieving process that may help when you reach out to someone.
I think you know the first one is the question of "How did they die?" or "What happened?"! Listen I completely understand we are a society of wanting to be in the know. Everything is shared and most times overshared with everyone. But PLEASE, don't ask someone too close to the deceased what happened in the first month, unless they decide to share. I can't count how many people asked me or my aunts this question. I tried to answer in order to make the uneasiness of the conversation pass. But even my answer was what I spoke of in the previous post, "He was ready to be with his wife."
This one goes out to how I started this post, "How are you doing?". There are so many ways to ask this question that make more sense. Because for me it was like really how do you think I'm doing? NOT GOOD! Try asking questions, "How are you feeling? (I would only suggest this for those that are close), Where are you mentally? (follow up with LISTENING and then asking if there is anything that you could do to help)". Honestly, I preferred people not asking me questions, but just letting me know they were praying for us.
Please understand there is a lot that goes into planning a funeral mentally. Once the funeral is over, that's truly when I feel like grieving starts. Don't expect people to answer your calls or text. And PLEASE don't just pop up on them. Because emotions are all over the place give them time. Trust me, if you are calling, think about all the extended family, close friends, people being nosey, etc. that happen in the beginning. It can be extremely overwhelming. Having my parents leave so close together and being the child to receive the calls was a lot. I'm thankful my husband and aunts took some of those calls when I didn't or couldn't answer mentally. It was ... yeah!
Four is a piggy back from three. Everything has started to calm down after the funeral. The quiet starts but also getting the affair in order start. There are days when I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't even want to have the normal dialog with myself. Please be mindful that if someone doesn't answer you text or calls, they may just need space. Recently I had a few friends that texted me and I didn't answer. A couple reached out to other people that they knew would see me and checked in to make sure I was okay mentally. Others waited a few days before picking up the phone and calling to check in. I have to also be honest with myself. I'm known to not answer a call or text before this, but mentally I'm in spacing where if I don't feel like it I'm not going to. And that's that on that!
"What can I do to help?" That question is loaded and most of the time, there isn't going to be an answer. When the person doesn't know what they need to do, they really can't tell you how to help them. It's the things that I didn't realize and people around just stepped in to do for me. My mother-in-love came down and stayed with us for a while, she's a cleaner naturally. I didn't lift a finger in Pine Bluff or Little Rock when it came to cleaning because of her and I'm thankful. We really never cooked that first week. Being honest I just bought groceries for the first time since mid December and it's the week before Valentine's Day. And cooked for the first time Wednesday, was something quick but hey I had to start somewhere. Instead of asking what can I do, think of the things that have to happen but they may not have the energy to do.
I'm not even sure who showed up the day of the funeral. Unless you are someone that I would have actually looked in the crowd for, don't worry about sending messages or say to someone sorry I couldn't make it. I was told so many people were there and I had no clue. Yet so many messaged saying they couldn't make it or didn't make it. I really dislike telling you all this, but for me I really didn't care. I just was trying to get through the day. Let's also make it okay to show up in other ways than just showing up to the service. It means a lot to see how many showed up, but I saw bodies not faces most of the time.
The stories! Listen I love them more than anyone else. But please be mindful when to tell your stories. Read body language, it can really tell you if the person you are telling the story to can handle what you are saying or if you need to save it for later.
This doesn't end after the funeral. Here I am months after and dealing with the estate of your parents is still a trigger and draining for me. It's so much that goes into handling their final financial obligations that I never knew about. I literally cried the other day for a couple hours because I received the list of things needed in order to file taxes from him for 2022, which I find completely stupid but it has to be done. Thinking that people should be over it or okay to a certain extinct is still not completely acceptable.
Please, please, please remember that grieving doesn't stop after the funeral. It's completely ongoing. There are days that it creeps up on you like a skillfully trained ninja. So be aware of the ebbs and flows of emotions and reactions that can happen whenever. When the time comes for an emotional day, give grace to them and yourself, because it can effect all those involved.
Time heals all. Welllll I'm not completely sure about this. I will say in time you learn how to deal with your triggers adequately. Certain smells, sayings, events, can get to you without you realizing what it truly is that has you in your feels. I've had times where I've been emotional and didn't realize until afterwards that it was the anniversary of my brother's death or a grandparents birthday. I was young when they died but that doesn't mean it doesn't still hit the same.
I hope this was helpful to someone. It seems we are getting in a place where death has been happening more and more frequently in the lives and minds of those around me. A lot of dealing with close death for the first time, and when you aren't used to dealing with it the toll it can take on you is something you can't explain truthfully.