I have been trying to think about what was really of the most help dealing with my loss of Chris. I complain enough about the thoughtlessness and stupidity.
These worked for me, but it doesn’t mean they would work for everyone. In fact, they could be the absolute worst for some people. Think about the person. It is an extremely personal experience. If you don’t know them well enough to know, just shut up.
I had asked people who had lost someone they love if they wanted to tell me about them and this worked for me as well. It gives them the option to discuss it or not at that time and gives them the opportunity to come back to you later since they know how you can help them. At some point, I wanted to tell people about the Chris I knew. Even friends of his didn’t know how I saw him. I want the world to know what they have lost.
My true friends told everyone to shut up and not touch me when I went back to work. They knew me. I didn’t want to hear platitudes from or be touched by people I barely knew. Just because you work with someone doesn’t mean that they are your friend. Only one person out of the hundred or so that I work with ignored their advice. This helped me so much.
Some people asked if they could hug me and I told them. It isn’t always the right time, in particular when you are trying to be useful at work and not a puddle. I said “Not right now” or Please!”
I didn’t want to hear that he was in a better place or that he was finally at peace or be asked if I had seen it coming. Just close your mouth until you have spent at least 5 seconds thinking about how what you are going to say might feel to someone else. If the person had led a troubled life, a loved one might be concerned about where they had gone. He may be at peace, but I was broken. Just don’t say it. I hope it is true for him, but the rest of us aren’t at peace. We are going through the worst moment of our lives. Since my son had chosen to end his life, I shouldn’t have to explain whether or not I had seen it coming. I am already filled with guilt.
I was having trouble with the funeral home because they didn’t want to run what I had written. My son had ended his life and they added a disclaimer at the end of the obituary and hadn’t even discussed it with me so I might choose to make it more palatable. I just found it there at the end. I needed someone to support me through this and put them in their place. My niece took over dealing with figuring out a date for the funeral because I had family coming from all over the world and I just couldn’t keep track or think about it anymore. I was in no shape for planning. However, planning might be exactly what someone else needs at this time. Offer and go with whatever they say without argument.
Because my son had ended his life, some people wanted to know what had actually happened. Think for a moment about what you are about to ask. Think for a long time. I know you are curious, but I might not want to talk about it at that moment. I had found him. Maybe I would never want to talk about it. Several people I barely knew asked. One person who was close to me asked in the way that was right for me. This gave me the option to go through it again and share it with someone I loved in a way that worked for me. I wrote it down. I could share it with the therapist I worked with later without being unable to speak through the pain. I think this actually worked best for her, too, because she could try to hold back what she was feeling to help me.This only worked for me. I also just told my friends with whom I was close without them asking. In fact, I asked them if I could if I weren’t sure.
Of course, there is the classic. Bring food. My son’s boss at work had an extremely close relationship with him. I believe that she loved him as much as she loved her own children and he loved her. She was always there for him. She was at our door with food faster than I can believed she could be. We weren’t going to eat unless someone put food in front of us and reminded us. She brought enough for everyone. She held fundraisers at work to help with expenses. She also kept her mouth shut about personal things she discovered at this time. Others brought food, too.
Don’t spread rumors. There was another incident on our street that day. A pediphile was caught. There had been an armed showdown with police.The neighbors came up with more twisted stories than I could have imagined.
These are just some things to think about. Please think about them before you speak to someone who has lost a child.