I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Posts Tagged ‘What to do for someone that is grieving’

First Holidays After a Loss – How You Can Offer Your Support

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on December 11, 2013

The first year of grief can be a roller coaster of emotions that are unpredictable and at times scary. Your friend has embarked on a journey they wished they never had to take and at each turn they find that life has changed and they have to chart a new course. The first year of holidays and family celebrations can bring a sense of uneasiness and displacement. Everything is new for them and yet the rest of the world seems to have remained the same. There are most likely many questions going through their mind. How will I feel? Will I want to celebrate the holidays? Will anyone remember my loss? If I sleep through the holidays, will it make all the deep feelings of sadness go away? And when will they stop showing all the happy commercials of families enjoying the holidays?

After my mother passed away, the first Thanksgiving and Christmas were a blur. It felt like we were going through the motions but not really present. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and birthdays were always a celebration with many family and friends at my mom’s home. After my mom passed away, I felt like I was lost and did not know where I fit in anymore. It took many years before my new life without my mom became full of new traditions. Having friends and family around helped easy the deep feelings of loss I felt that first year.

How friends can help during the holidays

Respect their decisions about the holidays. Each person’s reaction to the holidays after a loss is unique. Some may find comfort in continuing with family traditions, other may wish to start a new tradition, and still others may want to travel and be away from home during the holidays. Respect their decision and understand that they are doing their best to make their way through the many emotions they are feeling.

Encourage Simplicity. If the person grieving usually hosts the family festivities or has a long To Do list this time of year, offer your assistance. Holiday dinners can take a lot of energy to prepare, offer to host the family dinner or help prepare the meal. You maysnowflake-cookies even want to suggest going to a restaurant to take off the pressure. Holiday shopping can also be stressful, offer to help them with the shopping or suggest that the family reduces the number of presents by drawing names.

Help them make a plan. Although your friend may think they are up to putting together all the traditional family activities, they may find that they become overwhelmed in the process. Help them find alternatives, even at the last-minute, should they not feel up to the “traditions” of the season. Assist them in creating a plan for the holidays that encourages self-care and helps them move through the holidays with a little more ease. And if they choose to skip the holidays this year, be supportive.

Acknowledge the Loss. Be sure to acknowledge your friend’s loss this time of year and don’t be afraid to use the name of the person that has passed away. Send a card, make a phone call, stop by with a plate of their favorite holiday treat and remind them that you are thinking about them.

Share Your Memories. Sharing memories and pictures can be very therapeutic. It allows everyone involved to share their memories and honor the person that has passed away.

Pamper the mind, body and spirit. The depth of emotions that grieving can bring is exhausting mentally and physically. Encourage your friend to take care of themselves by eating nutritious meals, getting exercise and making time to process the feelings they are going through.

Holiday Gifts – Should you or shouldn’t you? If your friend has decided that they want to exchange gifts, consider buying something for them like you normally would and also include a memorial gift in remembrance of their loved one. A memorial ornament, a scrapbook with pictures of their loved one or a remembrance candles, shows your friend that you acknowledge their loss. Just know that the one gift that they want most in the world, having their loved one back, you will never be able to give them.

Ask Questions. If you are not sure what your friend needs, be sure to ask questions, listen and respect their decision. If they decide they want to host the holiday dinner, allow them but offer to help. If they want some time alone, allow them to have their space but let them know you are there for them anytime.

Leave the front and back door open. Feelings of grief throughout the holidays can be unpredictable. Allow your friend or family member the space to back-out of holiday activities or join-in at the last-minute without feeling guilty.

The best present you can bring is your Love. Deep feelings of grief can leave your friend feeling lifeless. Pamper them, hug them, love them, and take special care of them. Remind them that although they have lost a loved one, they still have family and friends that love them.

The first year after a loss is a start of a new life. Just like walking for the first time, your loved one may feel wobbly and may fall down many times as they find their way. Have a little faith that they will find joy again – one tiny step at a time.

For Holiday Grief Support Resources, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/Holiday_Grief_Support.html

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Our Newsletter includes tips, articles and inspirational stories on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one. Plus You will receive my FREE Special Report, “Twenty-Five Supportive Things You Can Do For Someone That Has Lost a Loved One ~ Plus Ten Thoughtful Gift Ideas”

©2011 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support & Holidays, Holiday Grief Support, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Robbie Miller Kaplan, Author of “How to Say It® When You Don’t Know What to Say”

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 25, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Robbie Miller Kaplan, Author of  How to Say It® When You Don’t Know What to Say.  Robbie’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to express your sympathy to a grieving loved one.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below. 

1.           What inspired you to write the book How to Say It® When You Don’t Know What to Say?

 I faced a number of difficult experiences and some folks said some insensitive things that were hurtful. I realized over time that people didn’t mean to say inappropriate things; they just were at a loss for words and didn’t know what to say. I decided to write a book to demonstrate how you can be supportive by saying and doing things that would be helpful and healing, not hurtful.

2.           Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?  (i.e. a special card someone sent you, a favorite place they took you, listened when you needed support, etc.) 

When you’ve experienced a loss, you need to tell your story over and over again to make sense of it. This can be really hard for many people to do; the tendency is to say, “You’ve already told me that.” Several friends and family members gave me the gift of listening. They allowed me to vent and they listened to the same stories and frustrations. It was their support that helped me through the toughest times. 

3.           Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process.  What would be your top three suggestions on how to positively support a loved one that is grieving? 

 a.      Keep in touch by phone, cards, notes, and e-mail. Even if you get no response, keep sending notes and e-mails. Grief is so debilitating the bereaved may not be able to respond, but your care and kindness will mean so much to them.

b.       Ask, “What can I do to help?” But only do so if you are willing to do whatever is asked.

c.       When they’re comfortable and willing to talk, listen and be fully present. No interruptions, no personal stories or comments. Focus your attention solely on the bereaved. 

4.           What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your books?

You don’t need to make grand gestures to make a difference. Decide on one or two things that you’re comfortable doing and do them for everyone. For example, ask if you can do an errand at the pharmacy along with your own or pick up a rotisserie chicken and a bag of salad when you do your grocery shopping. Simple, helpful gestures mean a lot to the bereaved. 

5.           What do you want our readers to know about you and your books?

I know first-hand how difficult it is to deal with a family member’s difficult illness or the death of a loved one. I feel very passionate about the importance of helping and supporting not just family members and friends but colleagues, neighbors, and community members. It can be intimidating to reach out to someone dealing with a terrible loss. My writing focuses on the importance of doing a kindness, but also on simple suggestions that are easy to implement.  My philosophy is one kind and thoughtful deed can make a world of difference to someone experiencing loss. Wouldn’t you want to be that person that makes a difference? 

6.           Do you plan to write any additional books in the future? 

If there was a topic I felt needed to be addressed, I would consider it.

ABOUT ROBBIE

Robbie has had a long and extremely interesting road to becoming a successful author. When she started out writing career and job search books, she had no idea she would eventually write about loss and grief.  It’s Robbie’s personal experience and her desire to make a difference in the lives of those grieving a loss that motivated her to write How to Say It® When You Don’t Know What to Say. Her book is now available in print volumes for Illness & Death, Suicide, Miscarriage, and e-books for Death of a Child, Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby, Pet Loss, Caregiver Responsibilities, and Divorce. All are available for the Amazon Kindle.

Visit Robbie at http://www.wordsthatcomfort.com or contact Robbie at wordsthathelp@gmail.com

Posted in Grief Resources - Newsletter, Share Your Story, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

More Than Words Can Say

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 12, 2011

As seen on the Note Project Blog on June 28, 2011: http://noteproject.com/more-than-words-can-say

When I learned about the Note Project, I went through some of my old letters and found a copy of a Thank You note I had sent my friend Michele after my mom had passed away. Michele was truly there for me at one of the most difficult times in my life. It has been almost 18 years since my mom passed away and I can still feel the love and support that surrounded me at this time of great loss.

I decided to share my letter to Michele not only to express my gratitude to her but to also show what an impact you can have on the life of a friend that has lost a loved one.

 

Dear Michele,

“I wanted to send you a note to let you know how much I appreciate you and your friendship. Words seem too limited to express the love that our friendship demonstrates.

I can never thank you enough for being there when I truly needed you. From making phone calls, to bringing food, to the most important part – being there when I needed a friend to listen.

Thank you for taking the time to stand by me when I felt like I was going crazy. Thank you for checking up on me and seeing me through the hard days. You can’t imagine how blessed I feel to know that I have such a wonderful friend.

Even when everything seems to have fallen apart, the one thing that makes me believe that God still cares about me is my loving friends and family. I am not sure I understand much about my life anymore, but the one thing I do know is that I have great friends that will see me through the good and the bad times.

Thank you again for the hundreds of thing you have done and said to make my life a bit easier over the last few months. I can’t imagine life without you!”

Love Lori

I have been deeply blessed with loving family members and caring friends that were there for me throughout the grieving process. Their thoughtfulness inspired me to create the website www.IDidNotKnowWhatToSay.com, where we share resources and inspirational ways to support a grieving love one. We invite you to share your story.

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
H. Humphrey

I Didn’t Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. Over the past 20 years I have lost many family members, several friends and pets. I have been deeply blessed with loving family members and caring friends that were there for me throughout the grieving process. Their thoughtfulness has been an inspiration to me and I hope to you as well. The smallest of gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life. My hope is that our site will inspire you to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

On the Web: www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com

On Twitter: www.twitter.com/IDidNotKnow

Our Blog: https://ididnotknowwhattosay.wordpress.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IDidNotKnowWhatToSay

If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/mailinglist.html.

Posted in Appreciation, Gratitude, Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Inspiration, Share Your Story, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Michael Corrigan, Author of A Year and a Day

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on June 4, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour. 

Today we Welcome Michael Corrigan, the author of  “A Year and a Day”. Michael’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a widower heal after the loss of a spouse.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

“A Year and a Dayis featured on our Helpful Books page under Loss of a Spouse.

And now our interview with Michael Corrigan: 

1. What inspired you to write the book “A Year and a Day”?
My therapist knew I was a writer and thought keeping a journal would help put the grief in context. It helps to confront grief and take away its power.  I was surprised to find very few men who sought help for grief; in fact,  many considered it ‘unmanly.’ It’s the so called strong silent type that often commits suicide.

2. How did losing your wife change your life?
Karen was a lovely person, so deserving of more years, so it’s a devastating experience that darkens one’s world. It starts with a shock but then the reality sets in, and there’s a terrible emptiness and feeling of loss. I felt like I would serve a life sentence of grief. The passage of time meant little, and grief goes in cycles. With time, however, grief can lose its sting.

3. How is the death of a spouse different from divorce?
Divorce is often mutually agreed upon. Divorce indicates something is wrong with the relationship. Death is brutal and often A Year and a Dayunexpected, and can affect couples who are happy.

4. What are your top three suggestions to help people move forward in the grieving process after the loss of a spouse?
Use one’s friends, get involved in projects, even volunteer work, and always seek professional counseling.

5. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?
I had friends take me out to dinner or plays, and one friend came by once a week to play music. It did help. One needs distractions. Eventually, the counselor, Tanya Forsman, suggested I seek a partner and that included websites for dating. That was after a year and a half. Before that, dating would have been impossible. I believe there should be at least a year of facing the grieving process.

6. What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your wife?
I felt everyone acted appropriately. I had problems with some friends who pretended it never happened, but I wanted to talk about Karen. It’s a common misconception: don’t mention the lost loved one for fear of hurting someone’s feeling.

7. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a spouse?
Offer your services and presence, and be willing to discuss the person lost to the bereaved. Some offered me grief books that did help.

8. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?
Some of the raw emotions in the journal disturb me now, because I have moved beyond that point, but I hope it is a tribute to Karen and it also teaches the reader they are not alone. We will all go through the grief process if we live along enough. Joan Didion discusses that in her book.

9. What would you like our readers to know about you and your book?
The book was written as a way to communicate with and remember Karen and to face the daily grind of grief and loss. I hope my book celebrates Karen Lea Smith Corrigan.

10. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?
I am a writer and I have written and published six books and many articles. I have written two books about the Irish American experience. Four of my books, including the grief journal, are on Kindle. I certainly will continue writing. It is what I do.
You can find me on Amazon and at Author’s Den.

Posted in Grief Resources, Loss of a Spouse, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Chelsea Hanson, Author of the Sympathy Matters Collection

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 23, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we Welcome Chelsea Hanson, the author of the Sympathy Matters Collection. Chelsea’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a grieving loved one.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

1. What inspired you to write the Sympathy Matters Collection?

The Sympathy Matters Collection started as a simple poem of comfort. When my mother, Donna, passed away unexpectedly right before Christmas in 1996, I knew that my family and the holidays would never be the same. To help with my grief, I wrote a poem, Hello from Heaven, to express what I thought my mother would want to say to us after she arrived in heaven.

Over time, I would enclose the poem in sympathy gifts for others. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and after many requests, I decided to publicly share this message, so I published my first gift book, Hello from Heaven.

As time passed, I was inspired to create more gift books to comfort others in their time of need, including Forever in My Heart, Merry  Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew and Choose Hope.

The collection of gift books from http://www.Sympathymatters.com has comforted people across the country and has been used by grief support groups, hospice and funeral home professionals.

But the gift books were just the beginning. As I continued to recognize the need for support at time of loss, With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes was founded. This is a site that provides gifts to express your sympathy with care as well as provide keepsakes to honor your precious loved one.

2. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process? (i.e. a special card someone sent you, a favorite place they took you, listened when you needed support, etc.)

Just this last Christmas, my mother-in-law, LaVon, sent me a floral holiday bouquet that said, “Thinking about you at this time of the year,” to express her care. My mother, Donna, passed away over 14 years ago right before Christmas. Thus, it meant so much that LaVon acknowledged the anniversary of my mother’s death and provided support at Christmas time, which is typically a difficult time of the year for those who have lost someone.

As evidenced by this example, grieving people still need messages of sympathy for years to come after a death, especially on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. You are not reminding them of their loss when you send a card or do something extra on these days. Instead, you are offering comfort and support that may still be needed. Remember, you can express your support at anytime to the bereaved.

It is also important to acknowledge the anniversary of the death. This is a hard day for anyone who is grieving, so your extra support on this day can be helpful. Communicate that you remember the date by calling, sending flowers, writing a note or what feels right to you.

3. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your top three suggestions on how to positively support a loved one that is grieving?

1. Reminisce. Continue to reminisce with your friend about his or her loved one’s life. Sharing fond memories is a wonderful way to provide comfort. Remember, talking about the deceased will not hurt or upset the person grieving. In fact, it is just the opposite, your friend will appreciate that you are talking about their loved one. Please know that it is okay to talk about someone who passed away, and it is helpful to use the deceased’s name in conversations.

2. Be yourself. Speak in a way and behave in a way that is natural for you. Continue the same relationship you had before: close friend, acquaintance, friendly neighbor, or work buddy. Offer help only if you are able to follow through, and in a way that makes sense in your life. Can you drive the carpool? Offer to drop off a meal? Mow the lawn once a week without even knocking on the door? Take the kids on a play date for the afternoon?

3. Learn about and understand grief. To understand what you friend is going through, do your best to learn about grieving. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no timetable on grief. By having an understanding of the process, you will have more compassion and be able to support your friend. Being a friend to the grieving will not always be easy. Your friend has changed and will continue to change as he or she journeys through grief. Your gift of support, however, will always be remembered and cherished by your friend.

4. You have a series of books (Hello from Heaven, Forever in My Heart, Merry Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew, and Choose Hope), do you suggest that readers read them in a certain order or do they individually stand alone.

Each book provides a separate message of healing and comfort to those traveling through grief.
Hello from Heaven can be given at any time during the healing process, but it is particularly helpful at time of loss.
Merry Christmas from Heaven Above can be used for the first Christmas after loss or any subsequent Christmas.
Forever in My Heart is especially beneficial on the first anniversary of loss, but can be given at other times during the grief journey too.
If Only I Knew is an inspirational book that reminds us to cherish our loved ones each and every day.
Choose Hope is for families who have been affected by cancer, and provides words of hope and encouragement when facing cancer.

5. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your books?
The main theme in my writing is that your loved one is always loving you, watching you and guiding you from heaven. The book excerpts below illustrate this message:

“Though my life is over, I am closer to you now than I was ever before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb,
but together we can do it taking one day at a time.”

Excerpt from Hello from Heaven

“Let your faith be strong, for I’m home where I belong.
Please don’t be unhappy because I’m not in your sight.
I’m by your side every morning, noon and night”

Excerpt from Forever in My Heart

6. What do you want our readers to know about you and your books?My purpose is simple:

To ensure that the bereaved receive the sympathy and comfort they need in a caring and helpful manner. When you are not sure of what to say or do at time of loss, the Sympathy Matters collection can help you. Whatever book you may choose to give, be assured that you will express your sympathy thoughtfully and provide great comfort to the recipient.

My long term vision: Working together with grief support groups and educators, we can teach society more about loss, dying and grief. By increasing society’s knowledge and comfort level surrounding death, dying can become accepted as a normal part of life, just like being born. In turn, our world will become better equipped to support and interact with people that are grieving.

7. Do you plan to write any additional books in the future?

Yes, I am currently working on a pet loss book, entitled “Wags and Whiskers from Heaven.” The purpose of the book is to provide sympathy and comfort to pet owners who have lost a beloved pet. I recently lost three long-time family members (pets Owen, Emma and Fiver). Thus, this book is to honor them and to help others who have lost a four-legged family member.

About Chelsea Hanson
Author Chelsea Hanson has the special gift of finding the right words when they are needed most. Her reassuring words provide hope that you too will be able to journey through grief and find a new appreciation of life. For information on Chelsea’s books, please visit: www.SympathyMatters.com 

As an entrepreneur, Chelsea is passionate about providing grief support. She is the founder of With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes, which was developed to help you express your sympathy remember your loved with a special keepsake or simply find additional support from those who have been there. For more information, please visit: www.WithSympathyGifts.com or www.Facebook.com/WithSympathyGifts.

Posted in Grief Support & Holidays, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

In Loving Memory of a Widow: Quiet Reflections…and Loud Actions

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on April 28, 2011

Guest Post from  
http://widowswearstilettos.blogspot.com/2011/04/in-loving-memory-of-widow-quiet.html

Today is a very quiet day.
 
Make no mistake – it’s still a typical Tuesday at work.  Lots to do, lots to write, lots of deadlines, emails, phone calls…
Lots of…stuff.
 
But it’s still a very quiet day.
 
It’s one of those rare times where I struggle for words – but not for tears.  Tears are coming easily.
 
Because we lost one of our own yesterday.
 
She was one of our own because she was a member of our widowed community.  She belonged to every single one of us.
 
Every single widow/er who knows the incredible pain and despair.
 
Every single organization who seeks to help and support the widowed community.
 
Every single organization who is dedicated to allaying suffering and bringing healing to those in pain.
 
She was one of us.
 
I did not know her personally – but that really doesn’t matter.  She was a part of our community.
 
She was one of us.
 
The question of what causes someone to take tragic measures always looms large.  And in the days to come, many will ask that question.  Many close to her will suffer from the guilt that such a tragedy leaves in its wake.  People will ask questions:
 
“Were there any signs?”
 
“Why didn’t she get help?”
 
“How could she do ‘this’ to her children?”
 
All questions for which there may never be any answers.  But I do know this.
 
Sometimes there are no “signs”.
 
Sometimes a person doesn’t know how to ask for help – or thinks that it makes them look weak or wimpy to look at another person and say, “I can’t deal with this”.
 
And she did nothing “to” her children.  For as I have said in the past, oftentimes a person who takes their own life isn’t necessarily “choosing” to leave…it is simply too painful for them to stay.
 
A horrifically permanent solution to what can be a temporary situation. 
 
I don’t know of any widow support organization who has not intervened at one time or another on behalf of a widow/er in despair.  Many of us have sought training to do so as effectively as possible.  Recalling the time years ago that I was on vacation and received a letter via email that mentioned suicide, I now travel with the telephone number of crisis hotlines at the ready…just in case. 
In the days to come, there will be pain of unbelievable measure.  There will be much speculation.  At some point in time, there may even be blame assessed.  And at least one person will say something that is unbelievably mind-numbingly stupid…
 
But not from our community.  Never from the widowed.
 
Because we’ve been there.
 
We know that pain.  We know the despair. 
 
We’ve been startled by the sound of feral wailing that came from within ourselves because the pain in the pit of our stomachs and the breaking of our hearts was almost too much to bear.
 
We’ve suffered the lonely nights laying awake in the dark and praying for an uneasy sleep.
 
We’ve endured the ridiculous comments (and worse) from those around us.
 
We’ve fought for financial benefits to which we were rightfully entitled; only to have doors slammed in our faces.
 
We have been betrayed (and worse) by those who were supposed to have our backs. 
 
We know.
 
And so, while today is admittedly a quiet day – it nonetheless calls for very loud action.  And I’m really good at being really loud.
 
Please….PLEASE…if or when that day comes that you feel that you just can’t go another step on your own journey…REACH OUT!  Reach out to another widow/er – it doesn’t matter who they are; just the fact that they are widowed will bring you comfort in the immediate and love and friendship for the long haul.  REACH OUT to any one or ALL of the wonderful organizations that you know are out there.  That’s why we’re here…to help YOU.  We WANT to help.  We WANT to get you through the pain to a place of peace.  That is our entire purpose for existing.  Support.  Comfort.  Community.  Strength.  And if we can’t help you, we’ll get you to someone who can…immediately and absolutely FREE of charge. 
 
And remember…it is not a sign of strength to try and go through this alone – nor is it a sign of weakness to say, “I need help”.
She was one of us.
 
As a sadly-large community of the widowed, let us all declare that her death will not be in vain.  Let us recommit every day to helping one another recover – and when we are able, reaching out to others who are in pain.
 
She was one of us.
 
She was not the first.
 
But please…Dear Lord…let her be the last.
 
And may she rest in peace.
 
Written in honor and memory of Nichole Haycock.
 
 

About Carole Brody Fleet

Carole Brody Fleet is the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed, “Widows Wear Stilettos: A Practical and Emotional Guide for the Young Widow”  (New Horizon Press) and “I’m ‘Heeling’ One Day at a Time: The ULTIMATE, One-and-Only Question, Answer and Reference Guide to Life After Widowhood” (due in 2011); as well as the author and executive producer of the best-selling CD entitled, “Widows Wear Stilettos: What Now?”.   To learn more about Widows Wear Stilettos; including the newly formed “First Month” Foundation as well as Widows Wear Stilettos’ nationwide in-person support groups, visit www.widowswearstilettos.com.

 

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Loss of a Spouse, Suicide Survivors, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on April 26, 2011

Knowing what not to say can be just as important as finding the right words to comfort a loved one when they are grieving.  Many of the following sayings might seem on the surface to be the “right” thing to say; after all you have probably heard them said at a funeral.  However, to a person grieving these common “words of support” encourage them to deny their true emotions and can be hurtful.

Here are a few sayings to try to avoid:

  1. The I’ll be there For You…But Not Really Response.
     
    Call me if you need to talk! (but the person is always too busy to talk to you).
     

    When you are feeling extremely vulnerable, you want to be able to count on friends and family to be there for you.  One of the most common stories I have heard from those that are grieving, are that friends and even family often avoid them when they need them the most.  Try to do your best to return phone calls and stop by and listen.  It may seem difficult at times but it can be truly healing to a friend in need.
     
  2. The Look on the Bright Side Response
    Your loss is nothing compared to what I heard in the news the other day, you should be thankful.  You are young; you can always have another child.  Don’t worry, you can always get remarried.  Don’t be sad, they are in a better place now.  Your mother lived a long life; you shouldn’t be upset that she passed away.  
     

    Grief is unique to each individual.  Just because someone else’s life may be more dramatic does not make your friend’s pain any less important to them.  Allow your loved one to freely share their personal story. 
     
  3. The Overly Negative Response
    You must feel so lost.  Things are really going to be awful for you for awhile.  You poor thing, life will never be the same. You must have a dark cloud over you.  How do you think your loved one would feel if they saw you like this?  If you were more religious these things would not be happening to you.
     

    Someone who is grieving is already feeling overwhelmed and sad.  These negative comments have a way of making someone feel even worse.  If you are really trying to sympathize with their feelings, try asking them how they are feeling and allow them to express what they are going through.
     
  4. The Just Get Over It Response
     
    Are you better now?  Your loved one passed away so long ago, why are you still upset?  Crying and being depressed will not bring your loved one back.  Oh it’s just an animal, you can get another one.
     

    Grief is not a disease or a psychological condition you can take a pill for and be cured.  You don’t “just get over it”. When you have experienced a loss, you learn day by day to live your life without your loved one but the loss is not erased from your memory.  Allow your friend to heal at their own pace.

Wow, so is there anything you can say? 

Most people do not consciously say things to be hurtful.  They have either heard them said a hundred times so they don’t understand how they might affect someone or they become so nervous about saying the “right” thing that the words come out awkward.

One of the most important things to remember when you are trying to comfort a grieving friend is to not diminish their feelings.   Grief is normal.  You may become uncomfortable when watching someone go through the deep emotional pain that can occur when someone is grieving, that is normal too.  If you desire to be a supportive friend, allow the person to feel the full range of emotions they are feeling – both the celebration of the person’s life and the deep feelings of loss and loneliness.   By allowing grief to take its natural progression you will assist your friend reach a sense of balance in their life. 

The best thing you can do is keep it simple and heartfelt.   Not sure what to say… why not start with asking yourself this simple question… What would you like someone to say to you if you lost a loved one?  

Remember to…Hug them, Love them, Show up and Listen.  You will do more for your friend by showing up and listening than any words can ever say. 

© 2011 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in What Not To Say, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I Did Not Know What To Say Newsletter Archives

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on April 9, 2011

We invite you to join our free newsletter mailing list on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one.

Our past issues are listed below for you to explore and pass on to your friends or family members that may find the information helpful.

Are you an expert in the grief recovery field? Do you have a story about your own life experience dealing with the loss of a loved one that you would like to share? Do you have tips or suggestions on how to assist a loved one after a loss? We would love to hear from you. We are open to article and story submissions for our website, newsletter and Facebook page. Please email us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

If you have a product or service that you would like to advertise on our website or in one of our upcoming newsletters, please visit our website for more details on our advertising opportunities – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/advertise.html

We invite you to explore our Newsletter Archive

WELCOME Newsletter
Featured Article: What To Say… When You Don’t Know What To Say
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say

AUGUST 2009 Newsletter
Featured Article: SHOULD I OR SHOULDN’T I?
by Ann Leach, President, Life Preservers: a global grief support community

SEPTEMBER 2009 Newsletter
Featured Article: Operation: Heaven
Writings & Tips for those who know someone who has lost their hero in the military.
by Taryn Davis – Founder/President, The American Widow Project

OCTOBER 2009 Newsletter
Featured Article: The Simple Ingredients for a Less Stressful Life
by Jill Rheaume

NOVEMBER 2009 Newsletter – Happy Thanksgiving
Featured Article: Be the Gift of Comfort, Joy and Love this Holiday Season
by Lori Pederson

DECEMBER 2009 Newsletter – Happy Holidays
Featured Article: Less Than Perfect
by Lori Pederson

JANUARY 2010 Newsletter – HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Where we have been… Where we are going… & How you can assist us reach our goals in 2010

FEBRUARY 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: Are Grief & Depression the Same Thing?
by Mark D. Miller M.D.

MARCH 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: Our Interview with Mary-Suzanne Peters on Reference Point Therapy

APRIL 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: What Grieving Moms Want for Mother’s Day: The Comfort Company Offers 10 Simple Ways to help Moms Cope When Mother’s Day Hurts

MAY 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: The Gift of Listening
by Lori Pederson

JUNE 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: What to Do on Father’s Day When Dad is Deceased
by Laurie Mueller, RTC, ID, AED, MEd

JULY 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: Tips for Feeding Grieving Friends
by Tamar Fox

AUGUST 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: A Hug to Remember
by Lori Pederson

SEPTEMBER 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: Helping a Suicide Survivor Heal
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

OCTOBER 2010 Newsletter
Featured Article: On Writing: Your Stories Can Heal Your Heart
by Joan Hitchens, Storybooks for Healing

NOVEMBER 2010 Newsletter – Happy Thanksgiving
Featured Article: Five Things You Can Do For a Grieving Widow
by Marcy Kelly, Author of From Sorrow to Dancing

DECEMBER 2010 Newsletter – Happy Holidays
Featured Article: 12 Simple Ways to Support a Grieving Friend this Holiday Season
by Lori Pederson

JANUARY 2011 Newsletter – Happy New Year!
Featured Article: The Art of the Inspirational Adventure
Helping your Love One Find Fun & Adventure in the Grieving Process
by Lori Pederson, Founder I Did Not Know What To Say

FEBRUARY 2011 Newsletter – Happy Valentine’s Day
Featured Article: HAVE A “SINGLE-Y SENSATIONAL” VALENTINE’S DAY
by Carole Brody Fleet, Author of Widows Wear Stilettos

MARCH 2011 Newsletter
Featured Article: The Myths Surrounding Suicide
by Catherine Greenleaf

APRIL 2011 Newsletter
Featured Article: What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One
by Lori Pederson

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The Art of the Inspirational Adventure

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on March 28, 2011

The Art of the Inspirational Adventure –
Helping your Love One Find Fun & Adventure in the Grieving Process

©Lori Pederson

The words fun and adventure are rarely discussed when someone is grieving. The grieving process can be lonely and full of a deep sense of loss and sadness for long periods of time. However, the grieving process can also include joy and inspiration.

Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland with my sister to see my niece’s band perform. My last trip to Disneyland was over 17 years ago after my mother had passed away. As I walked through the park, I remembered how much joy it brought me to go to Disneyland even when I was in the midst of deep sadness.

My friends took me to Disneyland to help lift my spirits a few weeks after my mother’s funeral. It was hard to imagine having fun while I was full of sadness, but when my friends suggested going to Disneyland, I felt it would be an opportunity for me to relax and have a little fun.

My mom loved Disneyland, and we went often when I was growing up. Going to Disneyland not only was a way to have fun, it was  also a way to connect with my mom through a shared passion for the happiest place on earth.

We had a magical day. We let go, we had fun and just enjoyed the sunshine and the rides. It was a tremendous release!

Taking the time to take your loved one out of the everyday heaviness they are experiencing, can be an uplifting gift that they will cherish. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started with planning an Inspirational Adventure:

1. What is their comfort level? Each person is unique and so to is the journey through the grieving process. When approaching a friend about getting out into the world, be compassionate about their comfort level. Always include them in the planning process.

2. Find adventures that are fun for them. What do they love to do? What have they always wanted to do? Help them reconnect with life and joy through the simple pleasures in life. Do they love going to the movies? Going to the beach? Walking through the park? Going to Disneyland? Did they always want to learn how to dance? Help them understand that they are allowed to have fun, even though they are grieving.

3. This is not a time to push or demand. Start out slow and offer options that move them in a direction of hope and joy. Allow them to say “no” if they are not ready.

4. Avoid surprises. The grieving process can be overwhelming. Even if your intentions are admirable, surprising someone that is grieving does not allow them the opportunity to back out if they are not ready or have had a rough day.

5. Start out slow and allow them to put one foot in front of the other. In the early stages of grief just getting out of bed and taking a walk can be difficult. Each little step forward will help your loved one restore balance in his or her life.

An Inspirational Adventure will not take away the deep feelings of sadness or cure the grief that your loved one is experiencing. However, it may bring a smile to their face, open their heart just a little, and help them begin to feel joy again.

Visit our Inspirational Adventure section on our website to read more inspirational stories.  Do you have a story you would like to share?  Please email us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

©2011 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Grief Resources, Inspiration, Share Your Story, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – – Interview with Pat Nowak – Author of the ABC’s of Widowhood

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on January 22, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour. 

Today we Welcome Pat Nowak, the author of “The ABC’s of Widowhood”. Pat’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a widow heal after the loss of her spouse.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

“The ABC’s of Widowhoodis featured on our Helpful Books page under Loss of a Spouse.

And now our interview with Pat Nowak:

1. What inspired you to write the book The ABC’s of Widowhood?

When my husband was killed walking across the street I was at a loss to find anything that was helpful to read. I was facing emotional upheaval as well as financial problems. Many books that I picked up addressed one or the other; not both. Additionally, a woman experiencing grief needs to have something succinct to read as her attention span is often very limited. My inspiration for the book came from wanting to help all of those women who would experience the death of a spouse and find themselves in the same predicament.

2. How did losing your husband change your life?

After the devastation of losing my husband and eighteen days later our home in a fire, I made the mistake of trying to do too much too soon and insisted on becoming the rock for my children to rely on. Instead of taking care of myself I did not want them to sufferThe ABC's of Widowhood so I overextended; sleeping very little and working non-stop. I learned that I am no good to anyone if I did not stop and listen to my needs. I have since learned the importance of taking time for myself.

I also learned that a woman MUST learn to be financially savvy for her survival. Even today too many women are not vigilant about finances. This spells disaster when there is a death; I learned the hard way but it need not happen.

3. How is the death of a spouse different from divorce?

Death and divorce are similar from an emotional standpoint as you grieve for a spouse that is no longer in the picture. Death, however, is final and many women, after a period of time, begin a new journey and achieve a complete life change. A divorce often means that compromise is necessary as you navigate through childcare, financial and living arrangements that will continue on for years. It is often difficult for a woman to move on after a divorce but in both cases there is a world of new opportunity if a woman listens to her heart and pushes aside the hurt. Once that happens, many women discover happiness that helps them regain their self-confidence and uncovers a wealth of prospects.

4. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?

My family and friends did not desert me. Often after a death or divorce female friends, who are still married, might feel that you are a competitor and couples begin to drift away. This is hurtful to the person grieving. The support my friends showed me during that time helped me through those times when I was overwhelmed.

5. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a spouse?

Family and friends can make the difference in the life of someone who is grieving. Call, stop by and make it a point to be engaged with someone who has lost a loved one. Show up unexpectedly with a cup of coffee and just be there to listen.

6. What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your husband?

My friends often were over vigilant not wanting me to feel the hurt. Unfortunately everyone has to go through the grief process in their own way and time. Occasionally I had to push back in order to make my own decisions; right or wrong.

7. What are your top three suggestions to help people move forward in the grieving process after the loss of a spouse?

The first thing anyone dealing with grief needs is an attitude adjustment. It is necessary to revitalize and embrace a newfound self-confidence. Even though the prospect of striking out on a path, chosen only by you, is continually daunting you must make it a point to try new things daily. By getting out of the same routine you will see amazing activities and events just waiting to happen. As your self-esteem soars you will know that it is now up to you to plan for your happiness. When you embrace the new changes you are free to let go of the past and proceed easily on to your future.

The next is balance and that has to come from within. Mental and financial balance is essential if you are to meet the challenges of facing life. You need to learn, earn and stop the yearning for balance to work. Learning from professionals what you need to go forward can solve problems easily. An accountant, attorney, and financial experts can help you with any necessary decisions for your future well-being.

Your mental balance may take a bit longer to achieve. When you spend so much time with a significant other your personalities become fused. The slow and rigorous ritual of becoming whole again will take many tears, embracing family and friends for a support system and taking small steps back into life.

The last need is courage; the inner strength that allows you to wake up each morning and get out of bed, even with tears streaming from your eyes. It is the firm determination to get going when all you would like to do is crawl in a hole. Courage will be tested each day as you relearn to live as one in a society meant for two but it is also the tenacity that will make you succeed.

8. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?

It is a simple and sobering fact. Most are unprepared for death, divorce or a debilitating illness, yet this need not happen. Being prepared is the one thing all women can do early in their relationship to insure that plans for their financial destiny and emotional well-being are taken care of.

Additionally, after the death of a spouse there are many assets you will acquire on your life journey. You have the opportunity to choose the way you want to live, the activities that will excite you and the numerous avenues for exploration. Every day will be a new test of strength, fortitude and determination but most who lose a spouse can find their way if they embrace the changes with clarity and hopefulness.

9. What would you like our readers to know about you and your book?

My personal goal after healing was to write a book that everyone who loses a spouse could read before or after the death to help them through the transition. The ABC’s of Widowhood is my voice of experience and my new beginning to share what I discovered along the way. I realized the most important lesson is that all women must have faith to know that they have the free will to pursue a vision of freedom and spiritual awakening…and the journey can be astonishing if you let it.

10. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

At the present time I am thinking about writing a book on generational assistance for women; condensing what I know with assistance from others.

About Pat Nowak

People who become suddenly single, whether through divorce or widowhood, can rely on Pat Nowak for comfort and assistance. A nationally renowned speaker and author, Pat Nowak is a life coach on overcoming the emotional trauma of divorce and widowhood, an expert in handling financial affairs, and a motivator to change your life one day at a time.

Connect to Pat Nowak, the author of The ABCs of Widowhood, at http://www.abcsofwidowhood.com. Books are available at http://www.amazon.com

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

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