I have to say that last week was the hardest week of my life, but each new day seems to bring with it a little bit of healing.
Last week my sister and brother-in-law stayed with my parents while they planned for Evelyn’s funeral, picked out urns, and bought black clothes that we all knew they would never be able to wear again. Friday finally came around and the family drove down to Stillwater to say a few words, put a rose on her urn and watch as they put her into the ground. The pain in my sister’s face was almost unbearable to watch.
After her burial we got lunch and rested up for the funeral service later that night. The service had an amazing turn out. It was so great to see all of their friends and family gather together to mourn the loss of a person none of them had the pleasure of meeting. The support and kind words from everyone was unbelievable. For everyone that came to support my sister and brother-in-law, I want to say, “Thank You”. You have no idea how much it meant to all of us to be able to grieve with you.
It’s now been a little over a week since the passing of my newborn niece and I am happy to say that with each new day, the pain of losing her gets slightly easier. I feel as though the lows are getting less low and the highs are getting a little higher. The feeling I lost in my entire body is slowly starting to return. I still have days where I am a little numb and particularly quiet because I am lost in my own thoughts, but those are ever so slightly becoming fewer and far between (my apologies to all the cashiers that have rung me up while I stood there in silence).
Through all of this, I have learned a few things about grief, loss, and etiquette. I wanted to take this time to share what I have learned over the past week about how to deal with people grieving:
1. Losing a child is in no way shape or form similar to you losing your dog (cat, hamster, fish…. really any kind of animal). So please don’t say you understand because you “lost a pet once”
2. Never EVER ask a woman you don’t know personally if she is pregnant. Having to see my sister be asked by several cashiers when she was due after she had lost the child was incredibly difficult. I know you mean well, but some things are simply better left unsaid. (I know everyone has heard this, but seriously don’t ask. If you see a child you can ask how old the child is, but otherwise I would suggest staying away from the topic).
3. Unless you knew the family personally, don’t ask for the mailing address. I can’t tell you how many people who “went to high school with my sister, but were really not that close” asked me for the address. I am not going to give it to you, so please just keep the family in your thoughts and leave the card sending to people who knew the family more intimately.
4. In times of great grief, no one really knows what to say. It’s traumatic, horrible and completely incomprehensible. Unfortunately the family has to hear about it a lot so simply let them know that you are keeping them in your thoughts and prayers. Maybe ask if there is anything you can do. 99% of the time there won’t be, but it’s nice to hear that if anything comes up that you are there.
So there you have it, some tips for dealing with people who are grieving. I hope you don’t have to use them any time soon.
[See also: 64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief]
Thank you again for all of your love and support. I truly appreciate it.