When someone close to you dies, nothing can prepare you for the devastation. Not the known “chances”, not even the knowing it will soon come. But when a beloved parent passes, it is even that more profound.
Someone dear to me recently experienced the loss of his mother. He described her passing as “feeling like I’m 5 years old all over again”. This makes sense to me, as even imagining losing my own mother pulls me into a place where all I want is to sit in her lap and feel her warm arms around me.
What does a grown man or woman need from us when they are dealing with such grief? Well, the same thing a 5 year old needs. They need to feel your arms around them, even if that comes from words or just being there, ready to hold them up when they are ready to fall. Being ready to let them go to their own quiet place and still making it clear that you are there for them.
Having tissues handy when they need to cry and not looking away in embarrassment, but even crying with them. Preparing their meals. Getting in the way of those who are there more out of curiosity than caring. If possible, taking care of arrangements.
It isn’t cookies. It isn’t ice cream. It is presence. When that person is far away from you and you cannot be there to do that, you can let them know that they are present in your thoughts, in your feelings, and in your prayers.
Is any of this really enough? Of course not. But all of it is all we can offer. By this, I mean more than a simple, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?” They can’t tell you what you can do. They don’t even know what they need, other than to have their parent/loved one back with them and we cannot give that to them.
Just be as there for them as you can and let them know you love them.
I love you. I care. I hold you in my arms and heart even from 2,000 miles away.