March 20, 2011

The One Brave Soul

By Kaci Goodrich Uipi

The week of Joshua's death was busy. Most of the days were filled with boring activities that had to be done such as picking out Joshua's plot and casket. However, there was one thing I looked forward to during these days: checking the mailbox. I remember checking the mail with excitement like I never had before (or at least not in the last 20 years), but like I was 10 again with no internet or cell phone, waiting for birthday cards to arrive from grandparents.

Sympathy cards came in by the handful. I anticipated them. I opened each one carefully, read what was written, and then displayed them on my counter as if they were trophies. This went on non-stop every day for about a week following Joshua's death. I loved every single sympathy card I received, with or without money. Each one meant a great deal to me.

Also during this time, we had visitors constantly at our doorstep; some with flowers, some with food, and some that just wanted to sit on our couch to fulfill their duty of stopping by to check on us. As if this wasn't enough, our phone was ringing off the hook as well, mostly with people trying to arrange things for the service.

A few days following the funeral, I asked Salesi if he thought we were done getting cards in the mail, and if there was any chance we would maybe get just one more. He said, "Yeah, I think just one more." Sure enough, there was one more card in the mailbox the next day. And then...that was it. The last of them.

Not only did sympathy cards stop coming in, but home visits stopped as well. Phone calls? Hardly any. Not sure if there's any coincidence in the timing of all of this, but this is also when Salesi went back to work, and then, the entire world seemed to suddenly crash down. There it came--that sneaky little thing called Grief.

This period of time was probably the most crucial. Who was going to call me? Who would continue checking up on me? Would anyone bring me a meal, now that I really didn't feel like cooking? Was there anybody out there who was willing to stick it out with me through the long haul?

Looking back, I now realize that not many raised their hands to volunteer for such a job. Why? Grief can be yucky. Grief can be ugly. Feelings can get hurt all over the place, and not many are willing to put up with all that. There was 1 brave soul out there, though.

I remember shortly after the funeral, she called to ask me how I was doing. I told her that I was doing okay, but knew that things would more than likely be getting worse. She then called back a week or so later to ask me again how I was doing. I really appreciated this phone call, because by this time, things were just then starting to hit me.

She continued to call me every week just to listen, but not to judge. She understood that I would grieve on my own time, and in my own way. To this day, she continues checking up on me, when most everyone else has gotten back to their busy lives, and can I blame them? No. That's life--it gets busy for all of us.

Much later, I found out that shortly after Joshua died, this friend really wasn't sure what to do, and what to say. So, she decided to pray and follow the spirit. Well, I guess you can't go wrong with that decision. She was in tune with the spirit from the get-go and understood that my grief wasn't something that could be fixed over night, or in a couple of weeks time. Even when I didn't feel like talking, she was there, willing and waiting to listen.

Misconception of the ungrieving world: "She doesn't seem to like to talk about her loss, so I won't ask her about it." I've appreciated those who have continued to check up on me, even if I didn't feel like talking at one time or another. It seems like many people have assumed that I've been okay because they think I've made it past the hardest part yet, and that it should only get easier and easier. The "hardest part" is different for each individual, and for me, it just happened to be after everyone stopped visiting and calling, and then I really felt alone. If you're willing to stick it out, don't give up on your grieving friend--you will be the one they will come to when they feel like they can't go to anyone else, and that's what makes all the difference.

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