Questions and Answers about Grief and Loss*
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Dear RayRay...a monthly Q&A where I answer questions about grief and loss, straight from the loss&found community. Real people, real questions, real answers. Got a query? Shoot me an email. I'll be selecting and posting questions (anonymously, duh) to answer and share with all y'all.
This month I answer questions about how to best support a loved one through their grief and, as a griever, how to know what it is you need. Super important questions - thanks for asking!
Q: Dear RayRay...My girlfriend lost a sibling unexpectedly and I don't know how to support her. She seems okay sometimes but then she'll completely breakdown out of nowhere. I love her and wanna help her but I've never dealt with death before, nevermind of someone so close. How can I help? What can I say?
A: Dear Bewildered Boyfriend. First off, it takes courage to ask for help. It takes a calm, cool, collected understanding that you don't have all (or any) of the answers (and thank the lawwwwwd you realize that). So I want you to stand proud in your ability to admit and acknowledge what you don't know - cuz its step one in being able to truly love, honour and show up for your bae. Ya dig?
Now onto your query. Its a great one. How the fuck do you support your boo through one of (if not the) most devastating, heartbreaking, life-altering events of her life? Everyone is different. Every loss is individual and we all process grief in our own unique way so I wish there was a one-size fits all answer for you BB, but there just ain't. You're going to have dig real fucking deep, and you're gonna have to do some work.
To start. Show. up. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - be there and be present. Your gf is going to be on an emotional rollercoaster for awhile to come so know that there will be highs and lows. There's no timeline so do not expect her to feel or be a certain way after a month or two or six. The loss of a loved one leaves a massive shotgun to the heart and though we can heal the wound, the shrapnel digs deep and often stays for good.
You can help by checking in with your lady and asking her what her specific needs are. They will change, a lot. And she may not know what the fuck they are a lot of the time, that's okay, ask anyways. Have integrity - meaning whatever you say you'll do, do it. Every time. And make sure you take a moment to check in with yourself and whatever you may have going on personally (or that may have arisen as a result of this death) cuz she will need you to be there with all you've got, so if you don't truly have it in you, you're gonna have to own up to that ASAP (for both of your sakes). Stay tuned for a forthcoming post on How to Help Your Grieving Homie - which I'll post the first week of February.
This is going to be a super rough go for the both of you, and for some time. It ain't easy, but it is an opportunity to learn more about one another and how to best support each other when it really counts. She's lucky to have you BB - go rock her world. Sending you both mad love and light. xo R
Q: My dad died a little while ago and I'm having a really hard time. I don't know what I need and I don't know how to figure it out. I feel super overwhelmed and when people ask me how they can help, I go blank. How do I know what I need right now?
A: Hey there Loved One. I hear you, I really, really hear you. I'm so sorry you lost your dad - that fucking sucks, to say the least. I bet your heart feels like it cracked itself open. It aches - in a real, tangible way. Its a mindfuck really - to no longer have someone around who has literally been there your entire life. Its unfair and sad and confusing - but its also real. And raw.
It takes time to adjust to this new normal. To a world without the person who comprises half your existence. I'd love to say the pain goes away. I don't think it does, but I think we learn to deal with it and funnel it into great and lasting change. To make ourselves and our lives better - and thus the world.
But we're not there yet, Loved One, not yet. For now, it may be most helpful for you to focus on your breath. Your breath is magically powerful, not only because it keeps you alive (duh), but because it forces you to be present. And when you're present, truly present, you can start to shift out of your pain and settle into yourself. From this place, you can start to listen to your heart. And it is your heart that has all the answers Loved One.
You do know what you need - you know it precisely and unequivocally. The hard part is quieting all the other shit. The white noise. Hushing the thoughts, the inner critic and the external opinions, so you can get to the truth of the matter. So, start, with your breath. Just focus on it. The inhale, the exhale. Count to 10 as you breathe in, and 10 as you breathe out. Slow and steady. Repeat. Let it fill your lungs, and expand your belly. Let it clear out your thoughts and balloon your heart.
Focus on your breath and nothing else. And when you start to feel calm. When you feel the slightest sense of still and ease, no matter how fleeting, ask yourself what you need in that moment and wait for the answers to arise. If they don't, just stay curious. No need to be upset or scold or shame - just do your best to stay present and have faith that eventually, at some point, your heart will drown out your head and whisper precisely what you need to hear. When it does, dedicate whatever energy you have to giving yourself what you need without fear, guilt or shame. Ask for help and be unapologetic of your desires. It may also help to read this post on Grieving in Choice.
Get quiet. Get still. Make sure you're listening. Your breath is the ticket to your freedom.
You will get through this Loved One. You're not alone. xo R
Looking for one-on-one guidance to move through loss and grief and help make 2017 the best year yet? Book a FREE 15 minute Intuitive Grief Coaching strategy call.
*There's no one answer to any particular query so please know if the above doesn't resonate with you, that's 100% cool. Its not you. You're not doing it wrong. Take what works for you and leave the rest. No stress. xo R