Want to know how to help a grieving parent?
Browsing the book of faces this evening, I didn’t expect to be walloped. AGAIN. My instantaneous puddle of tears made me reconsider never having purchased stock in Kleenex. What was I thinking?!?
Since our daughter, Lauren, died of lung cancer this May, every single day I think that I might finally have crossed the imaginary threshold of feeling like “it’s okay to be okay,” and that I can navigate the day’s activities and happenings with positive and truly-felt positive anticipation.
I feel – and so appreciate – the joy, the love, the smiles, the hope!! Then WHAM, a sudden, inexplicable, heart-wrenching grief strikes my soul again. I typically end up in a cold, quiet corner, in tears. …I pull up my big girl pants and start the journey again.
How do I balance my care for my surviving child (today’s thought: she and her children are coming to her childhood home for the first Christmas since 2010!! What a gift!?!?! I am seriously over-the-moon with joy!) with the sense of loss (…tonight’s thought after seeing Lauren’s family photo on my counter top? Next year on her birthday, my younger daughter, Cayla, will be as old as Lauren ever will have been. How weird is that?!)
Similarly to business or product reviews, personal energy, interpersonal relationships, and the corporate ladder, “where attention flows, energy goes”. Finding a ‘balance’ between the pain and the pleasure sometimes eludes me. The following story by Paula Stephans helped confirm that some of these new, raw, painful and surreal feelings under the surface are expected and ‘typical’, if there is such a thing among members in a ‘club’ no one wants to be in…
I am asked frequently “how can I help?” and “what may I do for you?” Gosh, as a grieving parent, I have yet to come up with a good answer that wouldn’t require you to have skills to raise the dead, or the stomach to explain this to Lauren’s sister, husband or 4-year-old daughter, or the time to hold me while I cry myself to sleep. Again. …In these initial months since Lauren died, I am starting to identify with some of these 5 thoughts: “What I Wish More People Understood About Losing a Child”, by Paula Stephans. Oddly grateful in the journey, it’s a touching story about how we love and help each other through…
A shout out to persistent friends and families who hang in there until we know what we need, and hold our hands through it even if we never do. A big shout out also is due to those who grieve in different ways – faster or slower, solo or with others, spiritually or philosophically; it’s all in our own time and style. You do you! The great gals over at What’s Your Grief have some helpful articles and strong shoulders, too, if you need more. I’m oddly grateful that we’re in this together, my new friends…
PS to my Aunt Janie: thank you for asking so specifically, too. I think Paula’s article “fell in my lap” because of your persistent care. 🙂
Hugs ’round you all whether you are grieving or giving your care, Lynn 🙂
-end: How to help a grieving parent
— Lynn Sherwood-Humphries is an author, speaker and educator about End-of-Life Care Choices and communication. A serial entrepreneur, you might find her starting or revamping businesses for optimal success, competing in shooting sports, or hiking the hills surrounding her home in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
If you know someone who is newly diagnosed with lung cancer (or are the person who loves that person), download a copy of Lynn’s FREE book, “Lung Cancer 101” (her labor of love after her daughter was diagnosed in 2018), HERE.