Important Lessons In Grief (and What You Can Do When Someone Is Struggling)

I lost my dad in May. He had been ill for many years so it wasn’t a surprise, but I must say the level of pain and grief that I felt and still feel was something I didn’t expect. I have lost people close to me, but this was my first parent. I reached to the bottom of my mental health toolbox and came up empty.

I am an optimist…I can always find the silver lining in any situation. But I have found it almost impossible to see a light at the end of this tunnel. I have, however, learned a lot while grieving. I have learned that I was not a great friend to others who had lost a parent – I really had no idea how difficult it was. I used to feel that sending a sympathy card was a bit lame…but I have to say that I have treasured every bouquet, card, email, note, post, comment and phone call. It really does matter and it really does help.

I have learned that those that love you, are there for you – every single day. I have also learned that grief can bring out ugliness in some. I have chosen to ignore it and focus on the positive learnings. I am truly blessed to have a loving and connected family and amazingly thoughtful friends. It is all still very fresh for me so I don’t have any great words of wisdom at this point except to say that if you have gone through this – I am so sorry. If you know someone going through this – be there for them.

When someone shares bad news with you, like a death, job loss, divorce, business closure or trauma, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Here are some ways you can support someone going through a rough patch:

  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Don’t try to solve the problem
  • Give them space if they ask for it
  • Give them practical support – pick up their kids from school, make some meals and drop them by, tidy up their house, etc.
  • Let them know you are there for them and that you are not judging them
  • Ask them what they need
  • Let them know you care – go for a walk with them, drop off flowers or cookies, and most importantly, call and check in regularly

I want to close with a special note to my dad: Thank you for everything. Being so close to you has made this process almost unbearable, however I would not trade a single moment or memory that we shared. I will find my way through this in time. I love you and I miss you, Daddy.

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