• jillieray

How Can We Show Up For Those Grieving?

The following is an excerpt from podcast episode #2 in which Jill and Anna discuss the most helpful ways to support those grieving. Anna lost her mom at 18 years old and her son Jack when he was 12 years old to a freak flood accident.

Shortly after my mom died suddenly, my glasses snapped in half. And I had a friend come and take my broken glasses and go to the optometrist, pick me out some frames, get those lenses, get them put in and brought back to me because I couldn't wear contacts from crying so much. So there's a tangible sense of I'm sorry. It has been like 30 something years. And I still remember that.

We had somebody else put his lawnmower in the car and just come over to our house and mow the lawn. Jack was our lawn mower at the time, he had just turned 12, so that was like a big rite of passage, and this guy just took care of it, without even asking, without expecting to be thanked. You know, when you are newly grieving, sometimes you feel very exposed. You just feel like such an alien and such a weirdo... so that was really helpful.

I will say that not every thing you do to help is going to is going to be helpful, and some things are going to fall flat... My daughter was playing with her brother, and then he's dead. So that that level of care could only come from people who knew her very well. And who she felt safe with ... So some things we had to say no to if it was someone she didn't know that well who, who felt compelled to reach out and try to help, but it wasn't a good fit for our daughter.

So when we do offer to help, some things will fall flat. And that's okay. You're not doing it because you're the expert at the right thing. You're trying to see what will be helpful and some things are and some things aren't. There's a lot of grace in the missteps, as long as the intention feels pure. And that's a beautiful thing. It does come through.

So I don't want people to get so worried about like what not to say what not to do. But instead just to sort of stay open. Be teachable, listen, keep asking, don't disappear. And then I feel like the intention will come through every time.

Anna Whiston Donaldson went from using her blog, An Inch of Gray, as a lighthearted online journal to an intimate public diary as she invited readers to share in her unthinkable experience. She writes with authenticity, grace and humor about the toughest issue of all. Anna’s book, Rare Bird, is a gift to those grieving and those looking to support those with their grief.

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