But fortunately, I may not have to cry this year thanks to Paula Hoerner and Cindy Johnson who are throwing me a girls only birthday party later this week. I'm not much of a "have a big party on my behalf" kind of gal...if Ken were alive, we'd get a sitter, I'd peruse Chicago Mag and then I'd pick a good restaurant and off we'd go. But you know the story: as it happens, Ken's not alive, and 5 months later upon me is the day that marks my very own entrance into the world of the living.
What better way to celebrate than with my friends. Without them, I'd really have reason to cry. Also, if you read the medical lit, there are just horrible statistics about spousal health after one spouse dies. My chance of getting sick has just sky-rocketed...but those social supports just might be the best preventive medicine money can't buy.
If you ever think there's nothing you can do when a friend has something horrible happen to them...or something bad...or even something just sort of lousy...here's what I've learned about the myriad ways people can help one another. While some are small and some are bigger gestures, what I've learned is that it doesn't really matter.
DON'T KNOW HOW TO HELP A FRIEND IN NEED? HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FROM MY OWN RATHER AMAZING EXPERIENCE WITH THE GREAT PEOPLE AROUND ME.
(by presenting this list I do not claim to be the world's greatest giver, but I have learned a lot from so many...most right here in Evanston IL, but some from all over the place):
2. Call again (Don't know what to say? Try: what's going on with you?" or "I've been thinking about you.")
3. Keep calling (even if he/she doesn't call back)
4. Write a note
5. Write again
6. Keep writing
7. Send a package with goofy items
8. Send a gift certificate for: food, massage, movies, spa pampering
9. Bring chocolates
10.Offer to take a child out to do something (actually, insisting is even better)
11. Offer to grocery shop (once again, insist)
12. Go for a walk together
13. MAKE THE TIME TO DO SOMETHING
14. Throw a party
15. Invite your friend over
16. Invite your friend to dinner
17. Bring over a home-cooked meal
18. Organize home cooked meals
19. Take your friend out shopping for something fun
20. Go to the movies together
21. Invite a few neighbors to hang out together
22. Get a pedicure together
23. Find out what your friends favorite dessert/treat is then bring it by once in a while
24. Walk their dog
25. Insist on babysitting
26. Work out together
27. Give homemade cookies
28. Help organize something: garage, office, garden
29. Offer advice if you absolutely think it's required.
Here's what else I've learned after going through Ken's illness and then his untimely death...
To me now, I can't think of anything more important than the little and big things we do for one another. It's hard to feel like you can do right by everybody, but in doing right by somebody, you can make a huge difference.
- Jill Schacter
- My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.