Not long ago I was contacted by a woman who had recently lost a close family member to a drug overdose. She asked what I recommend that might help the young person’s mother. Below is part of my reply. I’m posting in hopes it is helpful to others as well.
….Two actions to take after a loss:
SEEK COUNSELING – It is never too early after a loss to speak to a therapist. There is great power and healing in simply having someone LISTEN – and sometimes that someone needs to be an outsider – and therapists are trained listens. The power of telling her story – and her child’s – and knowing that the listener is plugged in and exhibiting empathy and kindness cannot be undervalued. And even if she goes just goes for one visit and not again for a while, it is OK – which brings me to my next point…
BE PATIENT – Just as each loss is unique for each person who experiences it because relationships are unique, please encourage her to be patient with herself. Sometime after losing my daughter, I was reading various grief resources and learned that I should be patient in my grief. I was confused with that expression – be patient in your grief. What did that even mean? For some reason it really stuck with me and after some time, I finally got it.
Patience gives you “permission” to be easy on yourself – handle what you can handle in that moment and in every moment. Be patient in your grieving! If I wasn’t feeling up to answering the phone or if I needed to hide in bed and if I was feeling frustrated and needed to scream, then that’s what I did. I think especially as mothers we are so tuned in to everyone else’s needs that we bury our own. Being told to be patient with ourselves is sometimes exactly what we need to hear.