Day two is supposed to be something I know about. I was going to do something about the best cookies or how to make a cake, but it all seemed to be shallow. This is a topic I am unfortunately knowledgeable about. The topic I picked is grief. I’ve been told I’m too young to understand grief. I wish I didn’t understand it…But….well, let me start at the beginning of the story.
Almost two years ago now, I went on vacation with my boyfriend….and….met someone. Horrible I know. But….he made me smile and it just kind of went from there. I was in college at the time and he would come visit me. I guess you could call it a whirlwind romance. He was 8 years older and I teased him consistently about robbing the cradle. He was in the Marines. Or is. Not even death can take that away from him. He taught me so many things…like, a sense of patriotism. How to embrace life. How to smile through tears. And I taught him something to. I taught the man who couldn’t believe in love how to love. I guess that’s my greatest achievement so far. Because of his job we knew our relationship wasn’t going to anywhere. So….I ended it. I didn’t want to. December 2 we broke up. In March I was looking forward to a visit from him. I didn’t know why he was coming at all. I do now-he was coming to sweep me off my feet and give me forever. March 3, 2012, I was sitting in my room about to lay down for a nap, when a mutual friend of our texted me. Chris was overseas, and I tried not to think of it. I can still see the exact text. “Chris is gone.” A single bullet took him from me in an instant.
At that moment, time stopped. I’m told I started saying no over and over. My roommates say they tried to talk to me. I ran to my best friends room and hysterically told her what had happened. The tears came then. I remember it. The feeling of numbness that sets in is overwhelming.
And, that leads me to our educational topic. How do you deal with a grieving person? What do you do with someone who can cry at the drop of a hat? Surround them with tissue boxes for starters! I have 3 tips for handling grief. Here we go…
1. Don’t run from their tears.
There were so many people that would see me walking around campus with tears streaming down my face and look away. I wondered what was wrong with tears? I couldn’t help them, I was completely powerless to stop them. Everywhere I looked I saw another memory of Chris.
I walked into my science class that Monday morning. I could see the expression on people’s faces. I even heard someone say, “She looks awful!” My selfish thought was, “If someone killed your boyfriend, you’d look like this too.” I sat in that class and took notes. I looked down and realized the page was wet with tears. My teacher pulled me aside after class. I explained what had happened. And for some reason, he had compassion. He took the tears, and checked in on me when he saw me around campus.
My floorleader walked by me. She had no idea what was going on. But she sat down beside me and put her arm around me until I could stop sobbing.
There are so many stories I could tell of people who walked away because they couldn’t handle the tears. But…there are people who stepped up to the plate, that I didn’t expect to…and we have a very good friendship because of it.
2. Do make sure they eat.
I kept forgetting to eat. I know it’s something silly, but we need food to function! I remember getting back from classes and trying to sleep away my grief. At the time, I was furious with Daina for waking me up, but everyday she dragged my butt down to the dining halls and forcing me to eat. She kept me stocked with snack foods, and my roommates made sure I was getting fluids. Even with all that, I still lost a lot of weight. Make sure your grieving loved one eats-it’s not going to be their top priority.
Your grieving loved one may ramble. I realized how much I was talking about Chris and tried to stop. I couldn’t. Someone finally bought me a journal. I filled that sucker with page after page about Chris. Things I missed about him, my favorite memory, the anger I felt for him leaving me, and the loss I felt. Only time is going to heal their wound-but having someone listen to them will help.