In My Experience: Facing the inevitable

Dear Jeanne-Marie,

I have a close friend that recently had a death in the family. It seems
like he is really suffering. What can I do?
Caring Friend

Short answer:
Dear Caring Friend,
Find time to just sit with him.

In my experience:
Both of my parents lived a long and healthy life, so when my mother died I thought I was able to accept it and had
finished mourning the loss until I
attended another person's mother's funeral a year later.

I completely fell apart.

I believe this was because, other than my siblings, I had no one in my life to give me a shoulder to cry on and
much needed hugs.

Before my father died two years later, he became the victim of Alzheimer's
disease. Seeing a loved one with Alzheimer's is like watching them die a little
piece at a time.

Sometimes he would know who my daughter and I were and other times he would
say, "I love when you visit. You are so nice to me and we have fun. Even your daughter is wonderful, so you
must be a great mom. But, who are you?"

When he died and both parents were gone, I felt something I did not expect; I
felt like an orphan. I was no one's daughter anymore. I had no parents. The very people to whom I would
have told my troubles were gone.

With this in mind, the best things you can do for your friend are listening to
him, crying with him or just sitting in silence with him. He doesn't need
advice. He needs what you have to offer; a friend to just be there.

Make him a cup of tea, a grilled cheese sandwich, or chicken soup. These are
called comfort food for a good reason.

Also, there are several stages to all grief and loss; denial, anger,
bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We must go through all of these stages
when we suffer a loss and in no special order. Sometimes a stage will repeat
itself. Every person takes a different amount of time in each stage.

A caring, listening, hugging, none-advising, giving of time, empathetic friend
is what is needed.

Just be there.


* Jeanne-Marie Curtis came from
Philadelphia to Chadds Ford Township in
1990. She has her BBA in HR Management/Employment Law. She is the author
of Junctions by Jeanne-Marie (Every Woman's Journey and Journal) Available
at Products/Books.
*To submit a question: email Jeanne-Marie at



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