I apologize for not writing much the last couple weeks; my mother-in-law, Linda, passed away a week ago Tuesday. While she was receiving Hospice care (reserved solely for those who are in their last days), she seemed to be getting better. Linda was preparing to go off Hospice and was saving to move into an apartment of her own by the end of this year.
So when my wife, Laura, called and uttered the only words her brain could form at the time, “Mom’s dead,” I felt like I’d been hit by the proverbial Mack truck.
Laura was so broken, and unfortunately was on the phone with me as she walked outside to our daughter Jessica’s car. Jess was there to pick Laura up for lunch, and had literally just talked to her five minutes before.
“Be there soon, mom. Are you ready for lunch?” Jess asked.
“Yes I am, I’m STARVED!” Laura laughed.
“Ok, see you in a few minutes.”
Between that phone call and when Jess arrived at Laura’s work to pick her up, my wife got the phone call every child dreads.
Jess arrived, and when her mama opened the door, Laura once again said the only two words she had the strength to utter: “Mom’s dead.”
I said that Laura was “unfortunately” on the phone with me because I heard my precious daughter break down immediately. I’d give about anything to erase her broken voice from my head.
“What? What do you MEAN?” she immediately sobbed. “How? Are you sure?”
Oh man, I can still hear her crying out to her mama. “WHY?”
There are many answers to that question, none of which I will attempt to address here. I’m still sorting through my own feelings, and I’m staying home as much as possible, attempting to comfort my grieving wife.
I’ve never seen her grieve like this, man, and it’s killing me. Her very SOUL is broken, and while I know it will get better, for now I’m just letting her mourn and weep by whatever means she finds necessary at that moment.
While we’re sorting through all this, however, I thought I would, at the very least, pass on a list of the best and worst things to say to someone when they’re grieving. These were copied and pasted directly from Grief.com (https://grief.com/).
“The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
6. I am always just a phone call away
7. Give a hug instead of saying something
8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
10. Saying nothing, just be with the person
The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go
10. Be strong”
I know people mean well, but my wife and her siblings (Nancy, Greg, Warren and Audra) are not ready to hear “she’s in a better place” or “at least she’s not in pain any more.” My kids don’t want to hear “God wanted your grandma with Him.” Even if that’s true, their hearts are broken, and people need time to grieve. Death brings a whirlwind of sadness, anger and confusion to those left behind, and it takes a long time to sort out our feelings.
So allow them to cry, scream, wail, punch a pillow, spend some time alone or whatever they need. Give them space.
Many blessings for sticking with me during this “dry” time. I’ll be back to writing next week, I figure.
And to Linda: Love ya. Miss ya terribly. See ya soon.
Left: Wayne Suits, September 22, 1940 – September 25, 2013 (RIP)
Right: Linda Marie Suits, October 09, 1944 – February 13, 2018 (RIP)