I come from a big family, my dad was one of 20 children, no twins, just one born every 13-15 months. It has been loads of fun growing up, we always had an abundance of cousins to play with, and even more fun as adults. Today one of my cousins sent a message asking how many cousins we actually have. I started doing the calculations, and just on my dad's side I have 29 first cousins. My mom's side I have 15 first cousins, giving me a grand total of 42 first cousins.
As the messages began to go back and forth, a common thread could be seen. In every posting, those that responded all agreed that family is the most important thing. That family is a unit you can depend on through thick and thin. They are there for you no matter what.
Every time our family has had some difficulty or gone through some tough times, every body immediately stepped up to the plate. In every incident, we have gathered, prayed, brought food and taken care of minor details. Rachel's death was no exception.
In those first few hours, my brothers arrived immediately, followed closely by my brothers and sisters-in-law, and of course friends. We were surrounded by family and friends all day long. As the news quickly spread through my family, things started happening without my knowledge. They began calling everyone that they felt needed to know, they started praying for us, for Rachel, so much was going on behind the scenes.
The next day, they sent flowers and planters, they stopped by, brought food, took care of little things, or just sat there with us. Every member of my family did something in their own way. Could I ever stop thanking them for all they did, not in a million years. They each went above and beyond anything that was required of them. They hopefully know that we truly appreciate everything they have done for our family, but I believe there aren't enough words to express my gratitude.
I know there are some families who are not as blessed as ours, who haven't spoken, who don't get along. But there must be people in your lives who you know, that if push came to shove, they would be right there for you. We all have at least one person in our lives whom we can depend on, who lets us be us, who accepts us as we are. That in my book, is family, too.
According to the Helpguide.org article, Coping with Grief and Loss, Support for Grieving and Bereavement by Melinda Smith, M.A., Ellen Jaffe–Gill, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Last modified: November 2010, one of the first bulleted items in the section: Finding support after a loss is:
- Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.
They truly want to help, they want to take care of you, make sure you are all right. Sometimes they may not say the right things, they may act peculiar, but they mean well, and want only the best for you. I know for a fact, that so many of your family and friends, wish they could some how take away your burden.
They ache for you, they may not understand your pain, but they some how want to try to make it better. I think of my childhood, and how my aunts and uncles would instantly kiss a boo boo better, if one of us got hurt. They tried to help make the pain go away. It is the same with a death, and the subsequent pain it causes, they want to kiss it better, make the pain go away.
The support our family received from family and friends did not stop once the funeral was over, it continued, it still continues. I still get calls from some telling me they are thinking of me, ocassionally I still get a card letting me know Rachel is being remembered in Masses, or a donation has been made in her name. And the best thing of all for me, is they remember Rachel, they talk about Rachel, they do not treat her name as something of a taboo. She is still very much a part of all our lives.
That's what 'family' can do, however you define family. Even with all their quirks, and idiosyncrasies they are still the ones I would go to without hesitation if I ever needed help. They have shown time and time again, that when all the cards are down, family is always the first priority.
So look to your family, or friends, anyone who you know and believe can support you, be there for you and help you carry your burden. We need each other, we need to know that others care, that our loved one meant something, to not only us, but to others as well. These are the people in our lives that won't run and hide every time you mention your loved ones name. Rather, they will sit with you and remember, cry and laugh with you, and just let you be you.
What ever your support systems is for you, be it family, friends, or support groups, allow them to be there for you, allow them to help, to make it better. They cannot take your pain away, but they can definitely help you carry it. Don't be afraid to share your load, I have said it before, grief is to heavy a burden to carry on your own. Let them help. Let them love you. Let them take care of you, that's what they know how to do best.
Always remember that love is all things, love never fails, love never ends. Love is all we can give each other at times, it is what sustains us through good or bad times. So let the healing kisses and hugs begin, and let them ease your pain.
To all our family, thank you for being who you are, thank you for being there for us when we needed you the most. Thank you for being a major part of our life, and Rachel's. We love you all so very, very much.
Blessings! and until we meet again.