1. As my friend Heather says, this is a sadness like no other. Having never been through a loss anywhere near this magnitude, I had no idea how deep and painful sadness can really be.
2. I have been pretty regularly blown away by the kindness and generosity of others. People are extraordinarily giving of their time, help, money and food. Some people have gone so above and beyond that I will use them as inspiration in the future when I have a friend in need. The most moving and hopeful card I received was from someone I have never met – the mother of a neighborhood friend. She shared her experiences and reassured me that my kids would be okay. After all, hers have turned out to be wonderful people. I was grateful for her words and that she took the time to reach out to me.
3. On the other hand, there are people you expect to be there who can’t be. They don’t know what to do or have their own baggage with which to contend. I try to remember that everyone is doing the best that they can.
4. This time of loss gives you clarity that you probably didn’t already have. I am able to really see what is important, who is important, and what I can let go of and not spend my time and energy on.
5. I don’t feel a need to make excuses for my actions. I am doing the best that I can at this moment in time. People are supportive.
6. It is important to give of yourself to help others. If I know something about someone else that Dave shared with me, I have tried to let that person know. This has been the case with colleagues, friends and family, and I believe that it has helped with my healing as well as theirs.
7. It is better to say something than nothing at all. I hate to admit it, but I am aware of the silences. Even if I don’t respond, I have read or heard every message sent our way. It is almost impossible to say the wrong thing. If in doubt, I appreciate hearing that you are sorry and are thinking of us. I still appreciate hearing from people as the days turn into weeks and now the weeks turn into months.
8. It is important to say yes. My pride often makes me want to politely decline offers of help, but I always appreciate the help when I do say yes. I think it is hard to do, but it is important. I have learned that people want to help as part of their process too.
9. Sometimes it is just better to do. I have given numerous examples of Lexy’s incredible thoughtfulness. Another example is from my friend, Lori. I told her how absolutely amazing the staff was at Reston Hospital – how loving, gentle and respectful they were in caring for Dave. Lori delivered a thank you basket of goodies to the hospital from us.
10. Be grateful for the little things – that prime parking spot, an especially beautiful day, a funny story shared. Find happiness in these things. Some days you might miss an opportunity for joy if you are not keeping your eyes open.