Today we had to say good-bye to a friend and neighbor.
After a short battle with melanoma that had returned after years of remission, he was taken too soon from his family on June 28.
This is now our fourth loss to cancer: two relatives and two friends.
The only emotional relief survivors, widows, and widowers have after these type of losses is knowing their loved one is no longer suffering.
But do those same individuals a favor: be there and listen.
They know it will take time. They know their loved one is no longer suffering. They know there will be good and bad days. Believe us — they know. And as good as your intention might be, reminding them of any of this genuinely doesn’t help. They’re not in need of pep talks or therapy sessions right now.
It means everything to just be there. Bring them some food, preferably something that can be put in the freezer and then easily heated in the oven when his/her appetite returns. Offer to clean the house or make some much-needed or put-off repairs. And if a shoulder to cry on is what’s needed, then provide that.
It’s also important to know when to back off. It’s difficult to be alone, especially if the loss is a spouse, but many times the widow/widower also wants alone time.
Everybody heals and moves on at their own pace. No two losses and recovery periods are the same or even similar.
Our friend/neighbor — the widow of our friend/neighbor that we lost — has been incredibly strong. They have a large family, including three daughters and several grandchildren, so between their amazing family and many friends, she’s been receiving help and support from Florida to Pennsylvania.
Love and support. Patience and understanding. When someone is bereaving, those four things mean more than words can ever express.