I was one of the lucky ones who had their grandparents not only living nearby but in the same tiny two-family home. My grandparents, Simon and Rita, owned the house. They, along with my Uncle Tony who was eleven, lived downstairs. My growing family lived upstairs in two bedrooms.
Each day, there was plenty of interaction up and down the stairs. I spent as much time as I could with my Grandma after my Grandpa left to work the evening shift in the city around 5p. Although I was just six, I remember doing all the things you do with your grandmother. Rita was quite frail with many health concerns but she was always willing to spend the evenings with me until I would go to bed. We did her chores together like snapping peas, washing dishes, rolling out pasta and my favorite, making tapioca pudding. She was my first friend and I loved her dearly.
During a trip to the Jersey shore, my Grandma had what was thought to be a fatal stroke. My siblings and I were quickly whisked off to our cousin’s home without being told that she had died. Five days later my dad came to take us home and as we pulled up to the house, I saw our street was lined with cars. “We’re having a party!” I shouted, ready to jump out of the car. Dad quickly turned around to the back seat where the three of us sat. His voice was quiet but firm, “Grandma died. Go right upstairs to your room.”
Those were the only words he spoke to us.
Grief after the loss of a loved one is heavily layered and brings out many emotions. When we lose someone, we grieve our whole lives for that person – for what was or what we hoped would be and all the places in between.
A number of our neighborhood group members have recently lost close family members: children, parents, spouses. It’s been a season of tears, hugs, memories, and prayers.
Here are a few complex truths about grief that may be helpful for you as you walk alongside someone in your group who is grieving:
- What’s comforting to one person may not be comforting to another. We all have a different love language. One may treasure words in a card; another may love a casserole. Still, another may not share their needs because they can’t define them.
- The person has lost more than just a loved one. They are grieving the loss of what role that person played to keep the family going. It might be as the family humorist, the one who made Christmas happen or the person who knew the right thing to say in all situations.
- The second year can be worse than the first. The first year is painful but often a blur. There is a sense of just going through the motions. But the 2nd year can bring the reality of permanency to the situation.
- Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Time doesn’t make grief go away. It may subside for a while but can resurface when we least expect it to. It is important to recognize that grief changes over time. Remember the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, not everyone goes through each of these stages nor do they go through it in any specific order.
So how can you help? Again, our best action is to listen with our heart and our head.
First, just show up and ask what is most needed. If nothing is suggested, wait and watch and pray.
Then … just show up again. Even if you feel like you have come empty-handed and don’t know what to do or say, just show up and stand beside them.
If you have anyone in your group who is newly engaged,
this is a great class to take before saying, "I do!"
BLUE (almost full)
Foundations Class Begins
Spring Quarter Neighborhood Group Sign-ups Begin
4:00pm & 5:45pm
8:00am, 9:30am, 11:15am, and 12:45pm
We are just a few weeks away from the end of our Winter Quarter for neighborhood groups. Thank you so much for diligently taking attendance. If you have gotten a little behind, there is still time to get caught up. Also, please let me know of any roster changes you may have and whether or not your capacity to add more people to your group has changed.