We talk and think a lot about sisterhood and community here at the laurelbox office. But talking about sisterhood and actual living sisterhood are two different things. So today, we are taking a step back, and reflecting on a few ways to bring about community with a grieving friend.
Community comes with acknowledgement. When you acknowledge someone's loss, you acknowledge the life of the person they loved. And that acknowledgement speaks to the grievers heart, and brings beautiful bonds between hearts. Ask anyone who has experienced a searing loss, and even years later they will remember the specific people who purposefully acknowledged their loss. Acknowledgement is powerful. It's hard to improve on this quote from Elizabeth Edwards:
"If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget that they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember they lived. And that is a great, great gift."
Community comes with shared remembrance. There is incredible power in remembering the life of someone who is gone. Sitting together, talking about their life, and reflecting on specific stories are simple ways to remember together. Even if your friend experiences a loss where there might not be shared memories to reflect on, this friend is instead missing out on future memories. There is an endless stream of future dates that will be painful... due dates, birthdays, holidays, and a long stream of "firsts" that won't occur. Remembering these dates can make such a difference for your friend in their grieving experience.
Community comes when we lean in towards hurting people, not away. Whew, this is a hard one. It is so easy to ignore loss, and it happens so often! As hard and as awkward as it can be to lean towards your hurting friend, it is so worth it. If you don't know the perfect thing to say, that is ok! You don't know what to say because sometimes words are just so inadequate in the face of great loss. You can cry with your friend, and start with "I love you, I am so sorry for your loss, and I will stand with you during this storm." Other great ideas on how to react after loss are here and here.
I know there are so many other ways to foster community after loss, and I want to hear from you! What are ways that you found or encouraged community after your loss?