IT IS HARDER IF THINGS ARE LEFT UNSAID OR UNDONE
[This is a response to my post of 1/13/03. Pat sent this to the Circle list ib 1/14/03. It is reproduced here with her kind permission. -- Robert Young, Webmaster]
I believe that the pain of losing a loved one is something that can't
be eased by anyone or anything, regardless of the quantity/quality of support
that is available.
Sometimes people try to keep the grieving person so busy and
distracted that they can't 'think about it', but that merely delays the process
that has to occur and can be worse if it's delayed.
Sure, hugs and other loving
support can feel comforting, but they don't really 'reduce' the pain; it's going
to be felt because it's really there. However, I think that a loss can be
even harder to bear if too many things have been left unsaid or undone. Those
are the things you can help her with and, as usual, talking is the only way. I
don't think that an announced 'talk session' is desireable, just ongoing
discussions whenever it's natural to do so.
Right now, as far as I know, you don't know what's ahead for you; it
might be better than you hope or it might not... that reality is hard to take
but you've certainly seemed to have coped beautifully with all the uncertainty.
If I'm right, then it's an easier time for these spontaneous discussions than it
would be otherwise. Your can't 'teach her' how to want to prepare a meal for
herself if she's not hungry, or how to know when she might be helped by a Grief
Support group etc., but you can help her to know the details that will make
various daily chores a bit less confusing. You can help her to know where you
keep things, the name of anyone that has helped you with legal/accounting/etc.
matters, the importance of mysterious items that you have saved for years, etc -
the stuff that doesn't get put into a will but is sometimes very important.
Years ago, [my husband] and I created what we call a 'Personal Data Summary' (for our
own use and for his mother's use). It is a series of questions about the things
mentioned above and many more, including the names of friends/relatives to be
notified, obscure relatives not mentioned in the 'who to notify' list, hiding
places around the house (some things can be very well hidden), information
about collections or treasured items, your wishes in-the-event-of death, etc. -
approx. 50 questions. Aside from being a useful tool for some people, this kind
of thing can prompt people to discuss things that might be awkward otherwise.
When he was 'putting affairs in order' before his RP, his revisions to the form
led to many discussions, even 'tho I refused to contemplate his not surviving
(If you're curious about the form, I'd be happy to share it with you or
send you a copy on a disk. (It's a MS Windows Word document, about 10 pages including space for responses)
Most of all, I hope you'll be here to make additions to that information
many years from now!
[The form Pat refers to is archived at Phoenix5 as an RTF document with permission of the publishers. RTF is Word format that is more compatible to Macs than a DOC format and easy to print.]