Some of the hardest times in life are also some of the most difficult times to be a friend. What can you do to help a family who is caring for a terminally ill loved one? I've lost family members recently and being on the receiving end of this compassion has left me with a heart full of gratitude. Today I'll share the most precious gifts my friends gave, and what you can do to help those going through heart-breaking times.
Every day on my drive to work, I would see a sculpture of eight arrows, seven of which were pointing down and the eighth on pointing up. Curious about it, I found out that the artist titled it, "Seven Down, Eight Up." It is based on a Japenese saying, "Fall down seven times, stand up eight." This sculpture was inspirational to me each time I drove by it. The reason why I am telling you this story is because it took me eight times to finally record this episode! But I eventually got it accomplished because my mom always said: "Never give up." I've had my mom on my mind a lot lately. In fact, that's the reason why I have been away from the microphone for several weeks. My mother passed away recently. I've tried to let you know what's going on, but I couldn't make it through an entire recording without breaking down. Sometimes the grief is just too fresh to share it with the world. I eventually will, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that I now have my "arrows" pointed in the right direction! And more than anything else, I want to be here for you and help you find the end to those "downward facing arrows" in your life.
Sometimes you have to reach some of the lowest points in your life before you can rebuild yourself into the person that you've always wanted to become. I believe that when you begin to focus on bringing positive peace into your life, you will see it happen.
This week I want to share with you the things that blessed my during the days leading up to my mother's death.
Three things that you can do to bring comfort to a grieving family:
1. Food is more than comfort, it's essential. My friends offered to send meals, but I kept trying to "be strong." Finally, nearly broken after many days of very little sleep, I asked them to bring meals. Their response was immediate, and even though I didn't think I had an appetite, the food tasted amazing! Another thing I found is that paper products are a must-have. Normally I'm not a "disposable" product user, but when a loved one is terminally ill, I would rather be spending time with family than in the kitchen any day. Here are just a few helpful items: Paper towels and plates, wet wipes, tissues, (there were lots of tears) and even toilet paper (there were lots of visitors in the house;) 2. Ask questions, but accept the answers that they can give you at the time. Whether we're on the asking or the telling end, we are there to offer kindness, caring, and support. 3. When you visit, take a memory to share. Is there a story that you can tell the family member that exemplifies how special their loved one is/was? Heartfelt stories and memories are priceless to the grieving family.
One more thing I want to add:
Everyone grieves differently according to their upbringing, how close or estranged they were to the deceased, and even according to where they are in life right now. How someone handles the death of a loved one, or how he or she responds to any grievous situation, is a highly personal issue. Our differences make us who we are, but we are also the same: We all have people we love and people we miss who are gone from us. Realizing that made it easier for me to accept the many different reactions to death.
No matter what you're facing today, remember to never give up. Whatever positive thing you want in your life, don't give up.
If there's someone you can visit today, or send a card, or give a call, please do that: Your heart will be so much fuller, and they will have received such a gift from hearing from you. You'll bring something positive into your life AND someone else's. Until next time keep looking up but never GIVE up!
Quotes: "It's in you pain that God is closest to you." ~Pastor Rick Warren
"We underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or the smallest act of caring. All of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia