I’ve never lost someone very close to me. Seems like lately, all the people I care about are losing loved ones and I hurt for them, but it’s hard to know how to be there for them.
My sister in law, whom I think is a super rad girl, recently lost her dad. I’m not bffs with my sister in law. I can’t even say we’re totally close. The most time we’ve spent together was a jam packed weekend for her wedding to my brother and some kick-a$$ dive bar karaoke in a little beach town on the Oregon coast. We’ve had a lot of late night messenger chats about boys and men and Boyz 2 Men and yoga and fashion and family and the ire of all those of those things.
But when her father died, I wasn’t sure how to be there for her. Knowing she’d be flooded with support from people who were closer to her than I, I held back from reaching until she asked me for a little help with something in all the memorial commotion, which, obviously, I jumped at the chance to do.
But in the whole scenario, like many others, close friends losing friends close to them, it is hard to know how to process and how to BE THERE without indelicate interference in an experience somewhat removed from my immediate sphere of influence. It's certainly isn't that I lack empathy, to the contrary, I find myself weeping on behalf of others, even total strangers, more often than I would care to admit. But I am also keenly sensitive that this grieving process has nothing to do with me and I get sort of terrified of being the kind of nuisance that makes every one else's ordeal about me.
It has steeled my resolve, for the inevitable times that I will face my own grief and tragedy, to remember the ways that I wanted to be able to help. And maybe I can remember to ask the people outside of my immediate grieving circle for the specific help that they can offer, and give them a chance to pay their respects in a practical way.