What I Want to Say When I Hear “Let Me Know If You Need Anything”

I’ve been very fortunate in that I have had to attend very few funerals in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for the sudden loss of my Father in Law, Phil. As I write this draft it has been a week since he passed away and our family is regrouping after his small service over the weekend. It goes without saying that losing him has left gaping wounds in the hearts of all who were close to him and we will be reeling from his passing for a long time.

This is how I want to remember him, reading his paper inside his restaurant.

Whenever a significant life event happens, whether it’s a death, birth, or life sucker punching us in the gut, my husband and I find comfort in the support of our friends and community. We seek out those who have experienced these struggles and we lean on them to help us find our way through. To our great relief, our support network activated without much effort on our part. We have had friends both nearby and faraway reach out to offer their condolences and to give us a shoulder to lean on as we navigate the various stages of grief.

The task of adjusting to a new normal feels insurmountable when the wound is still so fresh. The rest of the world is already moving on while we’re stuck in this terrible place with noone to hold on to but each other. It’s been difficult to respond to all the offers to help when we don’t really know what path our grief will take. If you will forgive me for dictating the terms of the support we might receive, I have come up with a few things that will help us through this time.

Don’t wait for us to call you, call us first

It seems like there’s an unending list of companies to call, agencies to notify, tasks that need to be handled and errands to run as we put our lives back together. None of them are especially urgent but they feel like they are. Give us a call or send us a message, it will give us a break from having to think about the never ending work ahead of us.

Share your story with us, if you can

It helps us to know we’re not alone. Hearing the stories and experiences of others helps to normalize the difficult process we’re going through. We want to hear how you worked through your grief, what challenges you went through as you rebuilt your life around the void of losing someone you love. It seems like we’ve told our story over and over again, it would be nice to hear yours if you can share it.

Make time for us

Life gets busy and we forget to enjoy the relationships we’ve built up over time. If you can spare the time and energy for a visit, we’d love to see you.

I don’t know if the above requests will apply to everyone who has experienced a loss, but these are some of the things I think will help me and my husband. “Let me know if you need anything” is lovely to hear, but knowing who to reach out to and what is reasonable to ask is not something we’re capable of doing right now. Only time will help us get back on our feet and feel like we’re standing on steady ground, until then I hope you’ll reach out so we can lean on you for a little while.