Mourning Call

coffeeBy Marilyn Nutter

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25 NIV

My dear friend Ellen and her family were among the first people who welcomed my family when we moved to VA in 1981. Their hospitality was unsurpassed and our families enjoyed camping trips, meals, holidays, graduations, weddings, and news of the births of grandchildren. We moved in 1992, and even though miles separated us, we stayed in touch with visits, and for the two of us, one special trip to Cancun a year after my husband died. We were family.

About two weeks after my husband’s passing, Ellen phoned to see how I was doing. She had been widowed over twenty-five years ago, so she personally knew loss. Over the course of the conversation, she asked if I would be interested in having her phone me each morning at 7:30 “to have coffee” as she put it. She knew my husband Randy had made our morning coffee and we enjoyed it together, so there was a void in my life as I started my day. I welcomed the idea.

Sometimes our calls lasted ten minutes, sometimes thirty. We shared updates on our families, our latest recipes, my writing and her on-line teaching, and sparingly lamented world news.

I also cleared my throat when I said, “hello”. Ellen was the first person I spoke to each day. She is, on occasion, the only live voice I hear in a day. In today’s media driven culture, emails and texts provide communication—and I appreciate those–but nothing replaces interacting with a live voice.

Our calls have continued for four years. Yesterday I had my usual morning call but later that day I received news that she unexpectedly slipped from earth to heaven.

Our families did a lot of “big” things—the beach, camping, and holiday dinners, but her most profound act of kindness was dialing my phone number each morning. A small act that showed a big heart—a faithful friend who kept a commitment, shared life, and gave me an opportunity to clear my throat.

I loved her and will especially miss her each morning at 7:30.

Marilyn Nutter, of Greer, SC is the author of three devotional books, former editor of Penned from the Heart, and a contributor to on-line sites and compilations. She is a Bible teacher and speaker for women’s community and church groups, a grief support facilitator, and serves on the women’s ministry council at her church. She is the mother of three adult daughters who have given her eight beautiful grandchildren. Visit http://www.marilynnutter.com or contact marilynnutter@gmail.com

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Helping a Friend Who Has Lost a Loved One – By Tamara Jones

IMG_20141008_164000135Another great post reprinted with permission from The Kindness Blog

Dealing with a loved one’s death is truly one of the hardest yet unavoidable events that happens in a lifetime.

If your friend is grieving the loss of a family member or close friend, do all that you can to be there for them during this terrible time. From picking up food to helping with funeral costs, being a friend means being there in any way you can.

Listen; don’t tell.

It’s understandable to want to give your phonefriend inspiration and words of encouragement, but in times of great grief, words simply won’t do. The best thing you can do for your friend is listen, which can be harder than it seems. There is no fixing, there is no solution, there’s just being there for them through the good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes when we try to look at the bright side too quickly, it can make our loved ones’ emotions seem invalidated. Acknowledge the horridness of the situation, then let them come to you with their thoughts and feelings. No one deals with death the same as another person, so allow them to follow their own grieving progress and do what you can for them along the way.

Their everyday needs.

Your friend is going to have a hard time continuing with everyday life tasks for a little while. On top of stress and grief, they’ll be fielding questions from other family members and friends, handling their professional lives, and dealing with funeral planning. This leaves little time and energy for simple daily tasks. Don’t wait for them to ask, simply do what you know needs to be done and don’t expect a thank you. They’re likely to be distracted for the foreseeable future, and putting in the effort to make sure their daily lives stay as on track as possible.

shopping-879498_960_720Simple ways you can help is to pick up groceries, deliver food and plenty of Tupperware (an often forgotten but highly necessary item) for holding all the meals and leftovers they’ll be accepting, and help them keep their home picked up for all the visitors they’ll undoubtedly be receiving for the next few months. If they have kids, offer yourself up to chauffeur them to and from school or extracurricular activities while they deal with the funeral planning specifics.

When it comes to the funeral.

On top of dealing with crushing grief, your friend might be responsible for planning the funeral. If you’re in the same city, ask your friend if they would appreciate you tagging along to meetings with the funeral home. They’ll be facing a bevy of hard decisions in a highly distressed state, and having you there to lean on could be the thing that makes it less painful. Have a company deliver flowers to the funeral to make sure there’s a tangible symbol of your support.

One thing we don’t always consider is the heavy cost of a funeral. Beyond being emotionally taxing, financial hardships can arise when attempting to plan a funeral. Help your friend handle the exorbitant cost by putting together an account on a website like Youcaring.com. Family and friends can donate money towards the funeral expenses, and can choose to add their names alongside or remain anonymous.

Don’t let your support wane.

We often unintentionally let our support wane in the weeks and months after the initial shock has worn off, but your friend’s grieving process will take a long time and it’s essential that you serve as a rock of support for as long as they may need. They’ll be receiving many calls and notes in the first few weeks after news of the passing gets around, but you’d be surprised at how quickly these disappear. Their moving on process won’t be a quick one, so you’ll need to be prepared for various degrees of distress as the months and years go on.

If your friend has recently lost a loved one, you may be questioning how you can best support them. Grief is highly individualized, and their healing process will be unique to them.

Offer your support in any way that presents itself, and simply stay by their side to ensure you can be the best friend possible during one of life’s most trying times.