Mar 26, 2008
How to Help Your Grieving Friend, Part 2
We’re going to begin this series with some of the assumptions you can probably make about your grieving friend. That way, if you understand some of what is going on with her physically and mentally, you can help in an informed way, and not just be grasping at straws for what you think might be helpful.
It’s been helpful when my friends have been aware and understanding of how tired losing Felicity has made me. In my experience, grieving took more out of me physically than I was expecting.
At first we were so wired and numb that we were staying up until 2:30-3:00am every night, just wasting time. Life felt really pointless, and we had little motivation to take care of ourselves. Not that we were on a terribly self-destructive course, it’s just that life feels so trivial and small.
So, obviously we were feeling pretty tired when we were staying up until the wee hours of the morning. But did that stop us from doing it? No. Eventually the pendulum swung the other way, though, and we were going to bed around 8pm. And I could sleep until 8am the next morning and still want to go back to bed by 11am.
(Confession time: Abraham still lets me sleep until I wake up (around 8am) and gets our son out of bed every morning and gets his breakfast so I can get sleep. We’ve found that I require more sleep than he does, normally, but especially in this time of grief.)
Also, sleep disturbances were really common for me. Once I got to sleep, if I woke up for any reason, getting back to sleep was really difficult. Everything from waking up to go to the bathroom to horrific nightmares would interrupt my night, and once I was up, I could count on not getting back to sleep for a couple hours.
In the loneliness and quiet of the night when you are the only person awake in your house, thoughts come fast and furious. So even if I was sleeping, it was often extremely fitful. I felt like I was sleeping in 1-2 minute segments. Thankfully I’ve been experiencing less of that now.
And of course, if your friend is grieving over a later miscarriage or infant loss, they have the physical recovery of delivery to deal with and hormones that are attempting to re-regulate.
It’s hard to know what to do when your friend is this exhausted. It might mean that you bring dinner or go to the grocery store or babysit her kids—we’ll get to some of these incredibly important practical helps soon. But it’s important first to just know your friend’s physical struggle.
We are weak human vessels. When there is a lot going on in the mind and heart, the body just can’t sustain a normal activity level. Know that for your friend.
(Read other posts in this series.)