Tag Archives: offer to help

They knew how to comfort me

It is never easy to know how to help someone when they are grieving. It might very well feel as if there is nothing one can do or say in order to help. I think that I have learned a few things along the way which I will share. No, nobody can take the pain away but it was a great consolation for me to simply have people who knew me well, to be there. They were positive people and knew how to offer a glimmer of hope for the future which helped a great deal. I realized how difficult it was for them to know what to say to me. One friend always stopped short when she was about to mention my son’s or my husband’s name. I told her it was fine to talk about them. In fact, I wanted to talk about them. By skirting the subject, I almost felt as though we were erasing the lives of two people I’d loved dearly.

Being a good listener is always a positive trait and there were times when I had a great need to talk and be listened to. When I mourned the loss of our son, my husband was there for me and we had each other, but when I was mourning the loss of my husband, I needed to talk a lot, and not only to my children. Maybe I was repetitive, but I think that it is natural to relate what occurred over and over, especially when it is very fresh and excruciatingly painful.

I so appreciated it when friends asked me to join them for walks along the beach, for a casual meal, or for the odd day trip away from it all.

Friends who had also lost their husbands, were the ones who  offered the best suggestions as they understood only too well, having experienced similar emotions. They were the ones who pointed out that the process would be a long, uphill one, but with a positive attitude, I had to make the journey from pain and despair, to living again. They were right. Almost four years have dragged by since my husband passed away, and I can see a small light at the end of the tunnel. Of course both my husband and my son will always be remembered.

Sharing is caring

two rosesHow about saying the following when talking to a chronically ill person or a family in trouble?

I prepared too much dinner today. Can I bring some over for you?

Tell me what it’s really like to be you for 24 hours.

I bought flowers to cheer you up. Is it okay to put them in a vase?

I have no idea how you are feeling, but I will always listen to you.

Has your cleaner returned? If not, is it okay to bring mine over just this once?

It’s hard for me to sit still for long periods, so if there is any laundry for me to fold or throw into the washer, just say the word.

I cook on Fridays and this week I plan to make lasagna. I would like to make extra for you. But, if you prefer chicken I can do that. It’s no problem.

I’m going to the supermarket. Need anything?

If you need a good cry, I have plenty of tissues in my bag.

I want you to know how much I admire the way you are handling all this. I can imagine how difficult it must be.

How to react when you hear that a friend has Alzheimer’s

Imagine the following situation; you have just heard from your geriatric neurologist that you have Alzheimer’s disease and after much sorrow,  you decide to share the diagnosis with a few good friends, even though you are in the early stages. You jot down a few notes of what you want to tell them. You know that they will be shocked as you are so good at covering up your short-term memory loss but you do  not want anyone else to tell them the bad news. You make the call and meet them for coffee, worrying how they will react.
One said; “I know how you must be feeling.”  He shouldn’t have said that because he had no idea of how I was feeling.

Another said; “There are supplements that you could take. By the way, do you walk every day? If not, you should. You should also get a second opinion, you know.” It would have been better if he had waited to see whether I would ask for his advice.

The third said; “It could be worse, you know. At least you will be with us for many years.” While that might be true, it did not make my husband feel good. On the contrary.

When he told someone at work, the reaction was; “Oh that’s terrible. Are you going to forget everything?”

The lady at the pharmacy who knew my husband well said; “Oh,  these pills are for an Alzheimer’s patient. My uncle suffered from Alzheimer’s and he wandered away whenever he had the opportunity.”

The following would have been far more appropriate:

“I’m so sorry to hear this.”

“Remember that we will remain friends. I will always be here for you.”

“I won’t keep asking you, but when you feel like talking, call and I will come.”

“Tell me how you are managing. How are you holding up?”