Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Loaded Questions

Shortly after KK died, I told Daryl, our associate pastor, that there are two questions people should not be allowed to ask someone who is grieving: "How are you?" and "What do you need?"

How are you?
I've always hated this question for two reasons:

  • We (I mean me) ask it so flippantly. One Sunday when I was in my early twenties, I remember my pastor asked me if I really wanted to know how he was when I asked him how he was. It really made me think.
  • We feel compelled to ask "How are you?" in return. Over the years, I have caught myself replying "I'm well. How are you?" then walking off without waiting for the other person's answer. Obviously, I didn't want to know how they were...and that is so not okay.

Right now, I don't know how to answer people when they ask me how I am. When I'm asked in real life or on the phone, I almost always tear up and have a hard time speaking. When I'm asked via text, I tear up and put the phone down. Most times I don't have the energy to "go there". Sometimes I wonder if the person really wants to know or if he/she just wants me to say that I'm doing well. If you really want to know, be forewarned that the answer may be messy. I have my good days and my bad days...or, more accurately, I have my good moments and my bad moments within each day.

What do you need?
Oh, man...I really don't know how to answer this question. The only thing that I need is my girl back. Other than that, I often have no idea what I need or what you can do to help. And when I do know, I don't want to impose upon you. You have a life. You have a family. You don't need me to add to your plate.

So, what's a person to say or do?
Rather than asking these questions, I would suggest the following:

  • Let the person grieving know that you are praying for them and thinking about them. 
  • Make it known that you don't expect a reply or a call or a thank you.
  • Don't put the responsibility on the grieving person to contact you. 
  • Try to think of what the other person wants, not what you would want (i.e. you may want a hug, but hugs may be overwhelming to others me).
  • Offer to do something specific (go out to eat, make a meal, etc.), but be okay with a "No, thank you" or a last-minute cancellation (the person may be doing well when making plans on Monday, but who knows what Tuesday will bring...grieving is exhausting).  
  • If you really want to know how the person is doing, ask specific questions and be prepared to listen. Even then, consider the setting before you ask. The answer could be messy and the grieving person may not want to fall apart in front of a room full of people.
  • Finally, don't text or call early in the morning or late at night even if you know the person is a morning person or night owl. I'll say it again, grieving is exhausting. Sleep is a precious thing and sometimes it doesn't come easily.
I feel the need to mention a couple more things:

  • It is okay to talk about your life. My loss and grief do not minimize what you are going through. I need to get out of my own head and think about others.
  • It is okay to talk about KK...just remember to consider the setting and be okay with a "not right now" kind of response. I love her and miss her terribly. I want to know that she had an impact on your life, that you think about her, and that you miss her too.

Monday, June 26, 2017

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

I first listened to this two weeks ago and needed to hear it again today...

I Need to Write

I've had a desire to blog over the last month -- to share the events of KK's last four weeks, to recap her celebration of life for those that weren't able to make it, to share about HCA's eighth grade graduation and other events that have happened -- but I haven't been able to find the words.

Today, I find myself needing to write. I need to write about none of the above. I need to write to get out of my head. I need to write because I am overwhelmed. I need to write, so here I go...

The week after KK died (oh, how it hurts to write that) and before the celebration of her life, I stopped by the office and talked to Boss. He laid out his plan for me in terms of work with the caveat that I could override his plans. His thought was that I would take the month of June off, come back part-time in July and August, then full-time in the fall. I immediately knew that I would not be able to take the month of June off. First of all, I love my job. But I also knew that I didn't want to sit home alone for a month...alone being the keyword. I told him that I was planning to work the following week, but I wasn't sure what that would look like. He was very understanding and willing to give me the flexibility that I needed.

I wasn't very productive the first week, but it felt good to be in the office. The next two weeks, I really threw myself into work. I spent time working on details that I have had to let slide over the last couple years, because I simply didn't have the time with all of KK's treatments. I loved the feeling of accomplishment! However, I was completely exhausted by the end of last week. I was really looking forward to relaxing on Saturday...the introvert in me needed the downtime. What I wasn't expecting was how overwhelming the loneliness would be by Saturday evening.

I don't know how to do this.

Please note that I am not writing this to garner invitations to do things (remember I am an introvert and that can be overwhelming as well) or to make anyone feel bad...I just needed to write.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Directions (Otherwise Entitled Don't Trust Your GPS)

There has been new construction around route 9 that has caused many people angst who follow their GPS to get to Chapel.

Here are the directions I can confidently give without driving down to the church and figuring out the new directions in person because even MapQuest hasn't been updated:

If you are coming from either direction on 495, take route 9 WEST, take the Computer Dr./Research Dr. ramp, turn left at the lights onto Computer Drive which becomes Connector Road which becomes Flanders Road, drive for about 2 miles and Chapel will be on the left (don't turn too soon though or you will be on Washington Street).