Fave Lifestyles

Now more than ever our communities are coming face to face with grief and loss in a multitude of forms. Whether it is the loss of a family member, friends or the spouse of someone you know it is hard to know just what to do. I believe most of us want to reach out but become intimidated or overwhelmed with just what to do. We don’t want to avoid the situation, but we also don’t want to be faced with the raw grief and potentially saying or doing something that could be upsetting to the person grieving. Let’s face it, death is part of life and being present with someone in grief is the greatest gift you can give.

My husband died suddenly in July 2011. To this day I am overwhelmed with the love and care I received from my family, friends and church family. The word got out late at night, the next morning there was a group of ladies from our church who came over and just started weeding my back yard. Someone else came early in the morning to bring a pot of soup and to find out what we needed. A meal train was started that took care of us and the visiting family for two weeks. My neighbor had her son mow our lawn for the rest of the summer. I have one dear friend who randomly sent notes, texts or calls especially on important remembrance days like the anniversary of his death or his birthday even now 9 years later. I could go on for days about how well taken care of we were. While every single thing each person did was so appreciated, what I appreciated most was the message “you are not alone, we are here and we will walk with you”.

A fellow widow Facebook friend, Kirsten Jackson has a Facebook page called The Grief Doula. Kirsten created a list of things you might do when someone you know loses someone they love and especially a widow:

‘JUST Happened List:

  1. Take a variety of things to DRINK! She can’t eat right now but she’s dehydrated and doesn’t know it. Take her bottles of water, tea, juice, Gatorade…not sodas! If you are one of the “Inner Circle” friends put the drink in her hand! She will not think to pick it up.
  2. If you are a friend, but not in the Inner Circle…. still go there. She will remember the onslaught of love later, even if she is in a fog now. Hug tight, be silent, be present and leave quickly unless you see a need (See #5). If you have to say something, say “This sucks” or “It’s horrible” or “I’m so sorry”. Acknowledge her pain, but unless you’ve been widowed do not say “I know how you feel”.
  3. Be brave. Look this in the eye. Don’t be scared, too…. she already is so frightened. Do not “visit!”. If she talks, listen. If she doesn’t, you can sit there if it feels right. Don’t try to talk about “other things”. She may be really afraid or being socially inappropriate right now. Assure her she can say or do anything in front of you. Tell her you are proud of her. Don’t say “If I were in your situation I would…” It doesn’t help. Do not make this about you at all.
  4. Take to the house; paper goods, tissues in big boxes and cute packets (open them and put them throughout the house for her), disposable cups, comfort food in freezer appropriate containers, flowers, pretty things, chocolate for later, easy to eat vegetables and fruit. If there are children, take toys, movies, books or anything that distracts and gives them a break from thinking about it.
  5. DO: laundry, straighten up, clean the kitchen, dust, vacuum, clean her car, or anything else that you can see that needs to be done. If there are children take them to the park, to the movies, outside unless she clearly wants them to hear her…which is possible. ASK. She may be in shock and will be foggy so speak clearly and slowly. If you are in the Inner Circle let her know she’s in shock, she needs to know that.
  6. Run interference, answer the phone, answer the door, write down the names and contact info of people who come but don’t let them see her if she is resting…. assure them and her that she will see the list.
  7. Many people send flowers, while they are a lovely gesture I personally like the gift cards for a massage, pedicure or something along those lines of future self-care.
  8. Be careful of your comments (regardless of how well meaning), be aware, be prayerful, be loving and be silent if possible. Remind her to breathe, hold her hand.
  9. PRAY and always love…. always!
How Can We Help a Friend or Loved One in Grief and Loss
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Remember grief and loss are not something a person gets over. They wake up with it every day and it walks beside them. Every person will experience grief in their own way. Hopefully, they will learn to manage it and honor the person they miss by choosing the way they live with positivity, gratitude and love. It is important to know that we can acknowledge their pain, being heard helps. I love the saying “Nobody truly dies until they are forgotten”. Speaking their loved one’s name, sharing your stories about them and freely talking about them actually brings great comfort. What we all need is love and grace to make our way on this journey.

Resources for Grief and Loss:
How do your help a friend in grief
Refuge in Grief
Book – It’s Ok that You’re Not Ok by Megan Divine
Modern Widows Club

Cindy Toledo

Cindy Toledo

Cindy Toledo
Regional West Director, Modern Widows Club


Cindy Toledo

 Cindy Toledo is currently the Regional West Director of Modern Widows Club, a national non-profit organization that serves to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society. Cindy became a widow in July 2011 when her husband died from a sudden heart attack. She found Modern Widows Club three weeks later and found her passion and purpose while leading two chapters in the Seattle area. She is seeking to rebuild a chapter in our area and invites anyone interested to contact her at regionalwest@modernwidowsclub.org.


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