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Monday, October 4, 2010

You are cordially invited....

I wonder what they are doing, do you think they would want company?  I wonder if she would like to go see a movie?  All too often after the death of someone we love, the calls stop coming, visitors start to trickle down to almost none, and all of a sudden we are left alone.  

When Rachel died I had been warned that after a while the calls and visits would stop, even the cards would stop coming.  At first I welcomed this reprieve from answering the phone or trying to be sociable during a visit.  But after a while, you start to feel lonely, not that I was alone at home, there was my husband, my daughter and my son, but you go from so much to so little, so fast.  

After a while we did begin to get invitations, they were always asked haltingly, but at least they were asked.  My children and I were invited to go apple picking, with some family and friends.  It was a welcome change, and it was okay, everyone else around me were total strangers, and I was comfortable with this.  My husband and I were invited to some social events, at first we kept saying no, but my aunt and uncle insisted, we went and it actually was nice.  Each time we accepted, it helped us realize that we could start going out, that it gave us an outlet, a chance to change the scenery if you will.

If you know someone who is grieving, it is okay to invite them to attend events, go out for a ride, see a movie, or any other activities.  They may say no, and that is okay, but keep asking, they will say yes when they feel ready.  It also lets them know that you care and that they are still someone you want to be with.  Keep in mind that certain events and activities may cause pain, and evoke sad memories.  

Shortly after Rachel's death I had received an invitation for a bridal shower, at first I thought I might have the strength to go, but as it neared I found I couldn't.  My fear was that there would be to many familiar faces, to many strong reminders of what was missing in my life, so I declined the invitation, just days before the event.  Luckily for me they understood. 

What happens all too often after someone has lost a loved one, is that people don't know what to say or do, so they stay away.  A widow or widower may find that his/her circle of friends no longer calls.  For those who are still married and both are living, this individual is a reminder of what could happen to them.  For someone like myself, who lost a child, other parents may not want to deal with the reality of how fleeting our lives can be.  Each tragedy or loss, serves as a reminder to others of what is inevitable, and they feel if they detach themselves from the grieving individuals, they do not have to face this harsh reality.  

So for those of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one, bear in mind that your friends and maybe even your family, are not avoiding you, but the situation.  They do not want the reminder that this can also happen to them.  For some, it is also your grief that can make them uncomfortable, they do not know what to do when you express your emotions, or what to say when you mention your loved one's name.  

But for those family and friends that do still call, who come to visit and who extend invitations, allow them to do so.  They truly want what is best for you, and care for you.  So say no, say yes, but say something.  Be patient with each other, give everyone in your life space and allow each individual to gradually begin to start, even if it only baby steps, living again. 

You will start going out again, you will laugh, you will smile, and eventually you will dance again.  You will remember, and at first it may be painful.  That first laugh may cause tears, your smile may evoke some sadness, but the pain and guilt will eventually subside, and you will find yourself dancing, enjoying simple pleasures at first.  You will notice the sunrises and sunsets, the rainbows and fluffy clouds.  The birds will sound bright and cheery again, and you will enjoy the warmth of the sun.  

So accept an invitation once in a while, go out with a friend or family member; maybe a walk, a nice dinner, or a movie.  I especially loved the movies, because if I felt like crying, 1. I could blame it on the movie and 2. it was dark in the theater so no one could see, it was perfect.  For those of you who know someone who is grieving, please extend them an invitation, ask them until they say yes (no nagging of course), but just ask once in a while, they will say yes when they are ready.  Keep in mind that weekends can be tough, so this is a great time to invite them to dinner, to go bowling, or anything that you know they might enjoy. 

Above all be patient, this is a difficult time for everyone, but keep in touch, it is very important for the bereaved to know that people still care, that people still want to spend time with them.  You or someone you know will learn to live again.  Love will be your guide, and it is the love that you shared that will definitely sustain you.  They are always with you even though you cannot see them.  They are always in our hearts. 

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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