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Need Advice on Giving Support


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Saturday my church had an "Easter Extravaganza," where we had all sorts of stuff set up for families. I was in charge of a family photo booth. We're a relatively small church (less than 100 members), so it was a rather large undertaking. It went great.

On Easter Sunday the man who had led our little short-term grief group last year came to speak with me. He had met a woman who came to our fair -- she had just lost her 39 year old husband the Sunday before. A sudden heart related death while playing basketball with his friends. She has an 18 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. He gave me her number and asked if I would call her. "Of course," I said. I was nervous about it, but I called her on Monday. We talked easily and she was interested in getting together with me next week after things calm down. I so recognized the "manic" tone in her voice and the need to make things "ok."

The reason I'm posting this might sound odd, all things considered. I need advice. I feel I'm in a rather acute stage of my own grief and I literally can't remember what I most needed in those early days of shock and disbelief. It's a little different online -- writing is my "comfort zone." One on one support with someone I don't know is not (yet). I'm afraid of coming on too strong and trying to "help" too much. Is it best just to listen and offer to "be there?" Should I share my experience, or is it too early to hear that? How many times should I call if I don't get a response right away? I don't want to be intrusive, but we all know how grief can make us hide. How different is it really to experience a very sudden death than it is an illness?

How it is that she (in her words) came to a fair a week later at a church she'd never visited, and then felt compelled to share her story with the one man who was best equipped to offer her support at a small church where there are three recent widows -- in my opinion -- can only be God at work. She felt the same. I hope she's still receptive next week, because I so want to help.

Thanks for any words of wisdom.

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Teri you answered you own questions already :wink:

Is it best just to listen and offer to "be there?" Should I share my experience, or is it too early to hear that? How many times should I call if I don't get a response right away?

The answer is so simple. Just Listen! offer advice if ASKED! sshare experiences of how to deal with the grief.

A life lost is a life lost. Does it matter how that life was lost?? I do not think so. The end result was the same! :(

How did you deal with Biils Passing on a daily basis? What did you tell family members? How do you stay focused and when do you breakdown? I think this is what she is looking for the answers to. How to deal with this tragedy. Listen and share thats basically the answer to the question I think.

Hope this helps some in doing this for someone. I know it may opne up some old wounds but it is for a good reason to help someone else in a SIMILAR situation.. Hugs and Prayers RandyW

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What helped me the most was talking to people that I knew understood-- and that's you Terri. It meant a lot to talk to people that had lost someone and knew what I was going through. Just be there and let her talk-- she will tell you what she needs.

I have a friend that lost her husband about 2 months after John passed away. She just needs to talk to someone that understands so I call her every few days and we get together to walk or for dinner. She tells me it helps her to talk to me because I understand what she's going through. Don't feel you're intrusive-- just call every few days, she needs to talk.

Let us know how it goes.


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I have found that God can make things happen if we just let Him. There have been so many times in my life that I have met people, in the strangest situations, and have later realized there must have been a reason for the meeting. God knows the weight on this woman's shoulders and also know that you will feel better by helping someone. As you well know, just listening is often the best help we can give anyone that's grieving. Just being there for her, listening and knowing first hand what she's going through is just what she needs right now. Go ahead and meet with her. I'm sure you will be just what she needs!!!

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I have thought about this post since you wrote it. Not sure why. I did not intend to post in response, because I don't feel I doubt I can add anything important to the discussion. For some reason, you and the post remained on my mind today, and here I am.

I can only say that I agree with Ann's post. Let it simply 'be', and say or do whatever feels natural. You're the right person, if you feel up to it yourself.

I know you still miss Bill acutely. There is nothing wrong with sharing that - look at this as an exchange, not as you only providing the support.

I just sense that it is not possible for you to do or say the wrong thing in this situation. Don't over think it, and take a hug from me with you. MC

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Thanks everyone. I felt kind of stupid even posting this. I just had this sense of doubt -- and I talk too much when I'm nervous! :wink:

I'm going to try to call her tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.

Hugs back to you all,

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I agree with everyone else. I'm going through the same situation right now with a neighbor. I just let her know that I am here and willing to listen. I remember how much I needed to talk about Johnny. People tend to shy away from discussing someone who has died and that leaves the berieved feeling as if everyone is denying that he ever existed. Remember the poem " An elephant in the room." It seems that the people closest to us are the hardest ones to get to listen, that is why sometimes an aquaintance or even a stranger can help more than a family member.

I know how hard this can be but it is something than you not only can do but also need to do. Don't forget it is alright to cry with her. When she sees your pain she will know that you truly do understand.

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Thanks everyone for your supportive words of encouragement.

I have spoken with her again -- she was happy to receive the call. She's planning to come to our church next Sunday. I'm hoping to meet her or at least talk to her again prior to that.

I will be carrying your words of wisdom with me...

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