This topic was the impetus for this entire series where I was like, “we need to talk about the things that people say.” Things that make grieving people want to stab them and things that may actually be helpful. You choose your poison.
Tami: [00:00:00] Come back, Michelle. I’m so happy to be here with you,
Michelle: [00:00:03] I feel like we need a jingle. I know. I
Tami: [00:00:06] feel like we need a jingle. And I also feel like this was the impetus for this entire series where I was like, we need to talk about the things that people say. They grieving. People want to stab them like the, or alternately.
We could call this how to actually be helpful. You choose your poison. It depends, I guess, which way you’re coming at grief, but so what to say or not to say to help others in grief, Michelle, you want to kick that off?
Michelle: [00:00:36] It could be a short podcast. It’s a short list. So there are so many things not to say.
I think I’m going to start on the, what is actually
Tami: [00:00:47] Oh, okay. That’s a good one. In case people that go, we got to give them the goods. First one is actually helpful
Michelle: [00:00:53] because don’t say any of that other
Tami: [00:00:55] bullshit we’ll leave the bullshit for the end and maybe everyone will be like, yeah, don’t do that.
Okay. So what is actually helpful?
Michelle: [00:01:05] So. The first thing, if you can’t say anything else, like you don’t, you know, you get caught off guard you, whatever. You’re not sure what to say. Just say this, something like, Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Or that is my heart is breaking. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.
If you’re just a total novice and you don’t know where else to start, something like that, only those words, if you’re ready to take it to the next level, like phase two, step two is to add on some version of how can I. How can I help? And we’re going to talk about how can I help because that’s not exactly, you know, the end of the story, like that can actually be unhelpful.
But if you’re one-on-one with the person, just to let them know how about this is better for you. I’m here for you. I’m here. I’m going to be here with you through this. You’re not alone. I see you something relating. Were validating, relating ICU, whatever you need.
Tami: [00:02:24] Yes. And I will say to add on what is very helpful.
What I have found to be very helpful is when people say I’m going to organize a meal train,
Michelle: [00:02:39] Yeah. That’s third phase. That’s third
Tami: [00:02:42] That’s third that’s advanced. That’s like just gold stars shooting out of somebody’s eyeballs at you. Totally. Another thing that’s very helpful is I’ll pick up your kid.
Yeah. I mean, don’t say that to a stranger obviously, but one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me was like, I’ll pick up your kid from school and then I’ll take her to my house and have her play with my kids so that you can ha because let’s go back to the last episode where I was like, hi, just be alone to be sad.
It’s hard. It’s hard to grieve with kids around. Cause you’re like, you’re all clumsy. You’re not sure what to do. And you’re like, can I get some space? Okay. So, Oh, shall we dive into what not to do
Michelle: [00:03:23] well? So I just want to clarify too okay, so let’s say you call me, text me, right? And you tell me the hard thing, the brutal thing has happened here.
Tami: [00:03:34] give you a, for instance, in November, I called you and said, Michelle test died. We probably have
Michelle: [00:03:41] that text thread somewhere. Yeah. And
it’s something like, Holy fuck. I’m so fucking, sorry. I’m here. I’m right here with you. And then you said whatever you said, which you would never remember.
Tami: [00:04:02] I said something like. I’m not I’m good. I can’t do anything for the next few months. Like I need to stop, but I need to know. I need somebody to know why I’ve disappeared.
Michelle: [00:04:12] yeah. And so then I would say of course, absolutely. This is just solely going to be your time to take care of yourself. And I’m totally here. Do you need anything right now? Right. The second that I can do for me, for you, what do you need from me?
Tami: [00:04:34] And I didn’t think I was like, I need to make a list because I’m this.
Hey, you guys, I’m 51 years old and it is coming to me that I’m a list-maker and it’s conversation. Yeah, it was like, I’m going to need, because at that moment I was like, Oh my brain’s starting to go offline. I’m going to need somebody who knows how to take deep care of themselves to help me prep this.
What do I need to do? Yeah. Remind me of the things that I need to do to take care of myself in this time. Yeah.
Michelle: [00:05:02] So then let’s, you know, let’s say, cause you have a child let’s say you were a single parent. I might say, can I come get Ruby? Can I take Ruby for a few hours right now, or tomorrow? That would be helpful.
Do you need dinner tonight? Can I bring dinner over and sometimes, and
Tami: [00:05:23] I’m nodding my head, like a bop, like a bobble head. Cause the answer is yes, please. Yes, please. Yes, please. Yes, please. And if you’re somebody who has a very difficult time and a lot of us do accepting help when it’s offered. Yeah.
I highly recommend. The book, the power of receiving by Amanda Owen and getting used to being in the practice of receiving things from people. So that there’s this ebb and flow that we’re constantly in the giving and receiving state. So sometimes I’m giving to Michelle. Sometimes Michelle is giving to me.
And so that’s why it’s really easy for me to be like, yo Shelley, this bad thing happened. Can you help me? Yeah. Cause I don’t feel bad about asking her for help. Right. Because I know she’s capable of giving it and I’m capable of receiving it.
Michelle: [00:06:13] Right. And roles reversed sometimes. Yeah. So, and I sort of, along those lines too, like grief does render us.
A little incapable of answering questions like that. I don’t know. Am I even hungry? I have no idea. So there’s also this subtlety of asking is fine or just fucking showing up with dinner. Cause you, you know, it was like early evening when you texted me. So like just show up with the food. That might not be asking.
It might just be, I’m going to bring some food over, I’ll leave it on the porch. It’ll be there. You can, you know, whatever you want, freeze it or eat it or whatever. I’m going to check on you later. I’m going to check on you tomorrow. Like really making it clear to that person. I am here. I’m leaving my phone by my bed.
If you need to call me the ringer is on, you know, like really being available and making it super clear. I want you to call me if you wake up and can’t sleep, be super forward and available,
Tami: [00:07:16] and also check in with yourself. To make sure that what you’re offering is a real is something that you can really do.
Because I have had people in my life who are like, I will do this for you. And then they disappear. And you’re like, okay, well, you know what? Now I’m grieving. And I’m pissed at you because you lied to me. Damn it. I believed you when you said you were going to do this thing. So check in with yourself and if you’re somebody who can make a meal, If you’re somebody who can clean a toilet, if you’re somebody who is like the fun friend, who is if you ever want to do something and not talk about your thing, I’m your person.
You want to go to a movie, you want to laugh, right? So weird to put your people in categories, but your people fall into categories naturally. So This takes us level of self-awareness for being a support person. What am I comfortable with other people’s grief? Cause if you’re not, there’s other things that you can do to be helpful full
Michelle: [00:08:20] that’s brings the food.
That’s such a great point. And it is really important to make sure that you can live up to, you know, everybody wants to be that great friend. Like I’m going to be there for you, but if you can’t, then it just adds to the loss. So yes, that is fabulous point to make.
Tami: [00:08:38] And sometimes you have superseding events in your own life and you can be honest with your person.
Yes. We had to do that. We had to do that and Tessa and I had to do that too, because she lost her dad. I lost my mom within months and you lost, it was like a thing where I was like, Okay. So why are all of my best friends going through a big thing right now? And so we all had to rely on each other in a different way, but we were really able to be like, I can’t do that with you right now, but it felt like a gift, right.
Because I didn’t have to be hurt that you weren’t helping me. Right. So.
I’m like, is this bound? Are we having a boundaries talk? I think we’re having a boundary. Just talking to her. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So what is helpful? What is helpful?
Michelle: [00:09:37] Here’s another thing I really liked. Someone did this for me. When I was just super deep in the grief after the baby. She came over and just parked outside.
And then she texted me and she said, I just want you to know I’m parked outside. And this was early. Like I wasn’t ready to see people. I just let her sit in her car outside. She said, I’m going to be here for 15 minutes. I just want you to know that, you know, during this time I’m I don’t remember. She’s I’m praying, I’m meditating.
I’m holding you in my heart. You can, if you want to text me back or you want to come out, that’s great, but just know that I’m here for you. However, that looks, and I just kinda sat like near the window and looked at her in her card and text her back anything, but just knowing that she was there, she was just there to kind of be with me and be with me, energetically, be available, felt so good.
Tami: [00:10:32] Yeah, I, and I guess jelly sent me, her dad had died years before that and her, she sent me books because we’re booked nerds around here. People, I collect them a book, nerd, introvert, friends, my lady, friends. And I was like, What like what books have been helpful? And she just, she didn’t give me book recommendations.
She sent them to my house and I was like, it’s like, when the food magically shows up, you’re like, I had no idea. I wanted to eat chickpea tacos tonight, but they’re right there and they smell delicious. I’m gonna go ahead and eat those. I had no idea. I wanted to read the five ways we grieve. Or broken open until I got them.
And I was like it, but it felt like a double gift because I didn’t have to use any of my very limited brain capacity to make that happen. I didn’t even have to ask. It was like magic. And then Sharon sent me it’s okay. That you’re not okay. Fabulous book. Oh, my God, that book is so good. I know we’re going to bridge a whole resources.
You don’t have to write stuff down, but the point is, as if say you’re a, if you’re in a friendship relationship with somebody who like seriously nerds out on reading, maybe sending a book. Yeah. We got flowers. I was like, Oh, that’s so pretty. What the fuck. I cannot take care of those. Everything else is going to die back.
And I know some people love flowers. Yeah. I’m not necessarily your flowers gal, except I was this, I mean, Oh my God, you guys, what I’m saying is you’re all over it. Right. I got some flowers that I was like, these are so perfect. Somebody sent me a complete white bouquet. After test died. And of course I was like, you’re ready for this.
It made me cry. Why? Because Tessa always had white flowers in our house. I was like, how does she, how does the person who sent flowers even know that? Right? Oh yeah. Okay. So other things that are helpful. Sounds like knowing your person,
Michelle: [00:12:52] Knowing your person, isn’t knowing yourself, knowing your person.
Yeah. And then, you know, things like cards can be helpful just. Checking in texting and I think we’ve already talked about, but when I recently had surgery, you checked in with me daily and there was the point where you stopped asking me how I was, because I was shitty. And you just started saying things like, just checking in, I’m thinking of you.
Like more general, not how, there was no pressure to respond. It wasn’t really a question which I really loved. It felt so good to get that and not have to do anything and not have to tell you like, yeah, I’m still shitty today. Thanks for pointing that
Tami: [00:13:34] out. And my least favorite questions when you’re, when you have a loss or you have you’re in recovery for something and people are like, Whoa, and it’s always with the.
The inflection. How are you? How do you fuck, do you think I am? My person just died. I just lost a body part. Like what the fuck? Yeah. Still in option B another one of my favorite grief books. The question that Sheryl Sandberg, we don’t have to talk about Sheryl Sandberg. Anyway, it’s a good book. Is how are you today?
You want to put that today and we’re in this. How are you in this moment? Because I’m going to tell you. Unless we’re going to say, well, my ex died X, meaning my person died. How am I, how the fuck do you think I am? I feel like shit. But in this moment I could be like, Actually I’m really tired or I’m fine.
Or I think I’m hungry or I might need something. Yeah. It sort of, it lends itself to, because when I hear the words, how are you? What I’m really hearing is. Glad please tell me you’re done being sad because it’s making me super cold
Michelle: [00:14:46] drama or like art. Tell me
Tami: [00:14:50] I’m so glad I’m not you. Yeah. And Oh yeah, don’t ever say, sorry.
I can’t imagine what you’re going through. All right. Well, you know what not helpful. No,
Michelle: [00:15:04] no, you can imagine it. You just don’t want to.
Tami: [00:15:08] That w that’s in the I’m so glad I’m not you category.
Michelle: [00:15:12] Yeah. I think we’re veering into what not to say. Let’s just go there.
Tami: [00:15:17] We’re getting there.
Michelle: [00:15:19] Oh, everything happens for a reason.
It’ll get better. God has a plan. Love and light.
Tami: [00:15:29] I’m so offended right now. I’m making a face. Call me if you need anything. Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: [00:15:35] Right. No. Oh my God.
Tami: [00:15:39] It seems like it’s a generous offer. So I will tell you one thing that I did after my mom died and it made one of my grief friends laugh so hard. She was Peter pants is somebody would say, call me if you need anything.
I go. I would literally take my phone out, open the apps notes on my phone and the notes app. And I’d go, okay. So what are you available to do? Should I come up with something I need to know who I can call for what, but it was actually really helpful in that moment because a, you know, you’re taking people back there, no one’s ever asked me that before. It’s I know we all say things that we see. It’s like, when people, like, how are you? And you’re like, I’m fine. It’s I don’t want to live in that world. If you want to offer me help, I want to know what help you’re available for. So should I come up with that thing?
I’ll be like, this person said they could do it. And usually people would tell me. Or I would scare them away and we would never talk again and whatever, but I offered that up in my grief support group. And what was really helpful is, okay. I ended up in this grief support group with, it was just me, one other person who had lost a parent and everybody else had lost spouses.
And I was like, Oh fuck. I didn’t, it never occurred to me that your fucking partner could die. And then you’d be like, I don’t even know what day the goddamn garbage goes out. Right. And so when I offered this thing to all the people in this group, they were like, that is so helpful. So one woman, people who, the guy, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
And she was like, our fence needs to be fixed and I don’t know how to do it. I can’t reach the Christmas decorations from the eaves in the garage. I the septic tank, like she kind of lived in more of the rural area. Right. So she was like, our septic tank might be acting weird. Do you know anything about it?
Because I don’t because my person was in charge of that. And it’s so secondary losses that we were talking about a couple of weeks ago where it’s I don’t know where the checks come from. Right. I don’t know what they w they, the garbage goes out. I don’t know how to, I don’t know what the password is for this thing.
I don’t know what you do in this situation. So again, if you could offer expertise, say one of your people, their spouse dies, you could be coming up on tax season, right? Do you need, because you know what? Tax season is always a kick in the pants in the bad way. Not the good way. But it’s like, what if it’s the first time you are ever having to file your taxes?
And you’re like, without your person who did it, or even if you’re the one who did it, you’re like, shit, I need somebody to hold my hand while I go back through the shitty year I just had. Right? Yes. Like that shit’s helpful.
Very helpful. I do want you to fix my chimney. I do want you to get my credit.
Any number like of actual things that, that if you can ease the burden, that is really helpful when
Michelle: [00:18:49] asking is kind of the call-out like, okay, well, are you real? Are you really available? What can you do? It’s it is kind of that call-out of are you just saying this to be nice or it weeds out the people a little bit?
Tami: [00:19:07] Yes. And I have a personal policy, which one I love saying I have a personal policy. I, it just, it pushes everything right up. Everyone’s Oh, personal policy must be real. It’s probably written down somewhere. And well, one of my personal policies is I take people at face value. If you say you are this kind of person I’m gonna fuck, all right, well, you set up the believe you, is there anything you can do?
Yes. Yes, you can. I need a painter or I need any number of bullshit jobs that I didn’t want, but now I’m a, person’s not here to do them. Right. I’m going to need you to handle that. Yeah.
Michelle: [00:19:49] Yeah. I think we could all adopt that personal policy. That’s a good one.
Tami: [00:19:52] Also not even in grief times, right?
Let’s just have a personal policy where we mean what we say. We say, well, we mean, Nope. That would be revolutionary, wouldn’t it? Yeah. Fuck. We would be like, well, our work is done here. We are all officially grown ups. We’re checking in with ourselves to see what we can actually offer to people. We can receive help with the spirit, for which it was intended.
Right. And we, the other weird thing that I have found is I may get grief help from Susie. Susie may never need me to repay her grief help. Right. But I made then give my grief help to Francis. Right. And I’m learning how helpful Susie was. And I’m like, I’m going to put my Susie grief hat on and I’m going to be helpful this other way.
And when I’m I model that because Susie modeled it for me now I’m modeling it for Francis. Maybe Francis will then. Do it for Florence. I don’t know why everyone’s super old. All of a sudden or like too, but you get what? I mean? It’s it doesn’t have to be reciprocated with the same people. Right.
Because our needs are going to be different based on what our losses are. Right.
Michelle: [00:21:08] It’s the classic pay it forward thing. Right.
Tami: [00:21:11] Yes, there’s an, there’s no need to pay back. Also. I want to be real clear. There is zero expectation for me ever answering a text or an email about my grief. Yes. We should be like, that should come with a disclaimer
Michelle: [00:21:27] or just during great.
I might not want to text you back.
Tami: [00:21:31] Like I don’t do that anymore, right?
Michelle: [00:21:35] Yeah. Okay. Here’s another big thing. That’s unhelpful. Huh. You tell me about your loss.
Tami: [00:21:41] I look at it. I know where you’re going to go
Michelle: [00:21:43] punch into the story about my LA. This was huge in my divorce. At the time I was interacting with a lot of people every week.
And you know, a lot of people knew about the divorce and so. They would come up. I’m so sorry about your doors. When I got divorced, blah, blah, blah, blah, like on and on. And I’m just like okay. I’m so sorry for you. Like I ended up consoling them and it don’t do that. Do not talk about there’s this, there is a very small amount of relating that is acceptable.
But not right away. Do not launch into your own story, thinking that, Oh, I’m going to relay, you know, I’m going to, it’s sharing time. It’s not sharing time. Let the person have their grief, their feelings, their story, let the focus stay on them. And, you know, yeah. Just unless you’re super skilled at this and know when that appropriate, very small window is of relating and yes, I, I completely relate to, Oh, you can just say I relate to that, you know, but don’t launch into the details of your own thing.
Tami: [00:22:52] Right. And I relate to that. And if any time you want to get together and. Trade war stories. I’m here for you. I love that story. I’m not going to tell you now because I see you’re in pain. You’re in pain over there. My friend, I know also I have to say sometimes. Whether people are receptive to your discomfort, meaning your acute pain becomes very evident when you tell someone my died.
And then the look of abject terror is on their face because what they’re doing in that moment before they say something that is most likely going to just make you want to punch them in the nose is they’re thinking, Oh shit, Moms die. That can happen. That can happen. And then it rolls into, I need to work on my own relationship with my mom.
I would hate for her to die right now. We have all these unresolved things or then there’s the, but my mom’s my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her. It’s can we focus back on my mom’s dead? Yours is still alive. We will work that shit out with your mom and your shrink. Later on your own time, on your own and time, Janet, but I need some coffee and I need it not to like whatever’s happened in here.
Bring the focus back to me. I don’t need a hundred watt bulb, maybe a 60 watt with even a scarf over it, soften the edges, but God dammit, don’t turn it around and make it about you because carousel and it’s so subtle and I’m telling you, I hope you’re all laughing right now at my pain. That was the experience I had when my mom died so many times I was like, fuck it.
I’m not telling anybody anymore because I cannot caretake youth people about my grief. My mom’s one that’s dad, not yours. Yeah. Yes. What else is not helpful?
Michelle: [00:24:51] What else? So sometimes, so the people you’re talking about who that abject terror and they’re like, they start backing up. There’s this other tactic, like the opposite direction is to just literally change the subject or say nothing without.
Acknowledging in any way, what has just been said, and this might happen a little bit more with the postman as we the mail carrier, the, whatever this thing is with the postal service or the cashier who, you know, the random person that you just sort of blah with hopefully not a close person to you, but it is also possible that you’re close and people will.
Be so threatened and uncomfortable and caught up in their own. As you were describing their own process, their own story narrative about whatever that they just have no words and literally change the subject.
Tami: [00:25:57] They would very much like you to stop getting your pain on them. Because they’re like, no, thank you.
I have enough of my own that I’m stuffing down and I don’t need you adding to it. And that shit,
Michelle: [00:26:08] and that shit might be contagious.
Tami: [00:26:11] Oh, sorry. Divorce seems to be contagious, death, CTS, all this stuff. And it, and we say it because it’s funny now that we’re not like in it right this second, but when you’re having that moment with somebody, you’re like, You’re not going to catch my dad, mom, or you’re not going to catch my divorce.
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s so funny, I’m sitting here thinking God, so many people might be like, why grief just makes you really selfish and United say to that. It fucking does. It really does for a brief moment. And that moment might last kind of quite frankly, a few months, but you know what? I want you to just go back to that There’s a before times.
And then there’s an after times. And if you’ve ever had a before and after, hello, we’re living in a pandemic member before times how things were, and then now the pandemic, like by the way, you could be experiencing a lot of grief symptoms without having lost, say your job as person a specific thing, but you could just be having grief about the loss of.
This social year, this life, the way of life the thing, the vacations that you had planned. Yeah. But yeah it’s, I’m just going to say, it’s not always about you, Jo. It’s not always about you Francis. Sometimes it does get to actually be about me. Wow.
Michelle: [00:27:40] Well, it’s that give and take, you were talking about earlier, you know, I mean, this is a season or a cycle, something that happens in life where that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
Of course it’s completely appropriate for that to be a more concentrated time on that person. And not as much about you and especially if it’s a long-term relationship, you know, that there are seasons and cycles to relationships, right? So I, I want to end on a little high Oh, that I have one more low.
Tami: [00:28:09] Okay. One more low. And that is it’s hard to be on the receiving end of other people, basically trying to put a bow around your sadness. Oh God. Don’t think about it. If it makes you sad. You could think about other things you could think about the time you did have with them. You could on the positive focus on the positive, but what about all the good memories?
If I kind of feel like I’m going to know the aneurysm about that. Like I’m literally touching, I think, where an aneurysm would happen. Cause I’m like, that’s not the fucking point where I used to have this thing and now you don’t have it anymore. And it wasn’t my fucking choice. So I’m gonna need some time while I’m uncomfortable.
If you are not comfortable with my pain. Please remove yourself from my sphere.
Michelle: [00:29:08] Okay. I actually, there’s so many things in this category. Let’s throw on to the steaming pile.
This will make you stronger. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger, something along those lines. You’re going to grow from this.
You’re going to learn. You’re going to be a better person at the end. Think of all the things you’re going to learn that. That category of stuff. You’re
Tami: [00:29:27] making such a nasty Michelle right now. And it’s you please do not prescribe my post-traumatic growth because a that is not fucking true. Sometimes you get post-traumatic growth and sometimes you get.
Fuck for a long time with no growth. Sometimes you’re just like, I didn’t learn shit from that. I just lost some shit. That was really important. Yeah. Yeah. None of those things are, hopefully I don’t want any smoothing, no smoothing people,
Michelle: [00:30:02] not trying to make just in general as a blanket, do not try to fix or make this better.
Don’t do not try to talk me out of how I feel. Do not try to prescribe or give advice of any kind.
Tami: [00:30:18] If you think it might be a cliche. Cause you’ve heard it before. It is. We much like you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to, you don’t have to repeat every cliche you’ve ever heard please.
Oh. And by the way, Well each and every one of us, including me and Michelle, get this wrong. Fuck. Yes. Oh my God. And I’ve gotten it wrong before my big losses. I’ve gotten it wrong during losses. I’m going to get it wrong in the future. You know, I’m going to do, I’m going to apologize and forgive myself maybe, but ask for forgiveness from the other person
Michelle: [00:30:58] And repair and make it
Tami: [00:31:01] change.
Course. Maybe do better next time. Right? Yeah, that’s right. There’s a lot of things by the way, there is so many things, but that’s a good place. What is helpful actually following through what is helpful saying I’m here for you? Another question that’s always helpful. I find even a grief as what can I do to help and like trusting the other person to be like, They could say nothing.
My person’s dead. And you’re like, felt good saying that didn’t it. Right, right. Because it changes the conversation. When you ask a question versus barfing out a cliche and
Michelle: [00:31:48] it’s different, you know, this call me if you need anything is different than how can I. Actually help right now. Is there anything right now that you need it just has such a different feel than.
Th the wording is so subtle and the intention behind it is different. Well, but
Tami: [00:32:05] that’s when you see somebody you haven’t seen in a long time that you’re like, Oh, we ran into each other and you’re like, we should get lunch sometime. And then you walk away and you’re like, we’re never fucking getting lunch.
We’ve never had lunch before. We’re like getting lunch in the past. We’re not getting the lunch now. We’re not getting lunch in the future. You don’t have to say the words let’s get together. If you don’t mean it. Right. You can say this. It was nice to see you and then shut the fuck up. You sound peace out.
Yeah. CYC. Yeah. It was lovely to see you. Yeah.
Michelle: [00:32:38] Okay. Two more things that are helpful. Okay. One is silence.
Tami: [00:32:44] Oh gosh. You just made everybody’s armpits sweaty. That’s a hard one.
Michelle: [00:32:48] It’s a hard one. It is.
Tami: [00:32:49] And that’s advanced level.
Michelle: [00:32:50] This is PhD work, but Ooh, I, there can, there is sometimes nothing more powerful than, especially if you’re together in person, you know, in days when you can be together to just hold the silence and let whatever is there be there.
It is one of the most profound experiences that I have had to be in silence with another person in grief.
Tami: [00:33:22] It’s a gift. It really is for the receiver and the
Michelle: [00:33:25] giver. Absolutely. And think of the pressure is so, you don’t have to say anything, there’s no nothing required of you other than just being there.
You’re like your true presence is enough. The other thing that I’m thinking of is how often, even if so, you know, I’m going to be the good grief friend I’m showing up, I’m saying the right things. Oftentimes we do that for this very short amount of time, maybe during the acute time, or, you know, maybe it’s a month.
And as we know, grief has no timeline, it comes and goes in these wave like cycles. And it goes on for years for
Tami: [00:34:09] ever.
Michelle: [00:34:10] It can be really great to just check in with your friend at, you know, maybe you set a reminder on your phone, literally, like every month you’re going to check in with your friend.
Hey, I’m just thinking about you and you know, this loss that you’ve been in. And I just wanted to say that you’re in my heart and. And check in. Is there anything that you want to, you know, you want to get together, you want to chat, do you, whatever, just to. To stay with it because I’ve heard from many clients and people that like, you know, yeah.
There was so much support that showed up. People brought food, people sent cards. There was so much in the first two weeks and then everybody disappeared and then I was completely alone and that’s when that numbness wore off and all the feelings were there and I didn’t know what to do.
Tami: [00:34:59] And then you also you’re like, Does everyone, they come over this, right?
And then you fall into is there something wrong with me? Should I be over this? Should I be over this? Like, when is it over? And then you start Googling grief timeline,
Michelle: [00:35:10] and then the five stages show up and you’re
Tami: [00:35:12] like, shit. Right. You’re like, but I don’t fit into those. I had another thing that was helpful.
Oh, another thing that is helpful along with silence it, I was like, it goes into that vein recently. Somebody said, can you tell me how you met Tess? Can you tell me about your friendship? Yeah. What is, what was her favorite food? What kind of job didn’t she have? And she just let me go on and on and tell you and test worked in the food industry and we’d spent a lot of time eating together and I, she was like, what’s what if you were going to go out to a restaurant.
What would she order? I was like, well, she would have, and I gave her like, test was very hydrated. It’s like she has a coffee there’s cream. She has still water with ice. She has Pellegrino. She has a juice. I’m like total hydration. And by the way, at some point during this meal, she’s going to ask for a diet Coke, too.
And then we laughed. And then I said, I gave her what she would order for her food, because she was very Sally from when Harry met Sally, there was a lot of on the side and a lot of extra and a lot of side orders and the plethora of drinks. And then this friend, this like business friend said, thank you for sharing that.
I’m going to make that meal for my family. And we’re going to talk about tests. I’m going to tell them about her and your friendship. And I was like, what kind of secret gift was that? Like she didn’t ask me how she died. She didn’t ask me. The hard stuff. She asked me the good stuff. Tell me about your best friend.
Tell me about your relationship. Tell me how you met. Did you guys ever get in a fight? What was the stupidest thing you guys ever did together? What was the best thing you ever did together? Yeah. And it was such a gift to be able to do that. That is beautiful. If you’re not somebody who can listen to the hard stuff, if you want to like really get in, like on the good graces.
Especially months after years after. Tell me about your person, because that’s, the other thing is as time goes on, grief becomes invisible to other people. Like I want a badge that says my mom died this many years ago. Yeah. So on mother’s day when I’m acting like an asshole, you’re not wondering why I’m very conflicted about mother’s day on so many levels that I can.
Write a dissertation about it. But if I just had a button that said dead mom, it would be very helpful for everyone. Right. Do I want to tell stories about my people I do. And it doesn’t matter how long ago I lost. Yeah.
Michelle: [00:38:08] Yeah. I totally relate to that. I really took joy in talking about certain things about being pregnant Oliver and not just about the actual loss.
Yeah. What a beautiful offering that person gave you.
Tami: [00:38:23] Yeah. And yeah, it really was. And it, and made me go, Oh, put this one in your toolbox because that was, it was unexpected. Right? It felt like there was a lot of thought and it was just like a series of texts. It wasn’t like we had this long conversation.
But, and I will also echo on the. Frequent text check-in I’m just checking on you. I’m just checking on you. How’s your heart today.
Michelle: [00:38:54] And next level I’ve had people who. Have apparently put dates in their calendar, like knowing when something happened, an anniversary of some kind and we’ll check in on that and like random people who aren’t my close in circle.
And I’m like, how the fuck did you remember that? You know, obviously you put it in your calendar, but how thoughtful? So that’s another thing, like just write it down and it takes three seconds to send a text and that can really make someone’s day.
Tami: [00:39:22] Yeah. Oh, man. All right. I’m glad we ended on a high note.
We like, we started high, we went, we took it. We went full. Fuck you. And then we came back. Hi guys, there’s so much to this because also just a reminder, at some point, you’re going to be on the receiving end of all of this, and you’re going to be on the giving end because the one thing that’s guaranteed in life is that we’re all going to lose something significant.
And we’re all gonna know people who lose something significant. So we’re going to be called upon not to be idiots on both sides. Totally.
Michelle: [00:40:01] These are the life skills that you didn’t get anywhere else.
Tami: [00:40:05] Oh my God. Sorry. I just started twice. The reason I’m laughing so hard, it’s like. I was going to say it’s a generational thing.
No, there’s plenty of people in younger generations who also don’t get this because these are the things that we are supposed to learn at home at church at this, at that. And God, most people are terrible at grief. Which is probably what we should have said from the very get, go. That’s why we’re doing this.
So we can all be better at the thing that we’re going to be called to do out of love for ourselves and each other. Yes. Beautiful. This is a way we want to make the world a butterfly. Do you have anything else to add before we wrap up today, Michelle?
Michelle: [00:40:53] No, just remember to say
Tami: [00:40:54] less, say less, ask more questions.
Yeah, I hear you. All right, friends and tell next week. Remember that you matter too.
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