Losing someone you love is bad enough, losing your partner 3 weeks before your wedding is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy’s worst enemy. Nobody deserves that kind of pain.
When my fiancé died, I was fortunate enough to have an army of people around me for support. The best thing was, I didn’t even have to ask.
Over the time I spent deep in the fog (I’ve talked about the fog in previous posts), I was able to really take a look at the types of supporters that show up when a death has occurred and it was something I’d never considered before.
- The Unconditional Supporter – This is by far the best, and the type of supporter we should all try to be. They show up in whatever capacity they can and get straight to work. Whether it be by bringing food by, answering your phone when you don’t feel like it, or simply being there to watch a movie or hear you vent, these people know how to love through action. They are rare gems and should be treasured. They don’t have to be close family either. A woman who attends the same church I grew up in heard about Matt’s death. She reached out to my mother about scheduling a visit with me, and once she was told it was alright with me, she came by with a basket full of a lot of my favorite things from her, and a few other people from the church. I hadn’t seen, or spoken to them in well over a year, and yet, she was there. I’m not sure if she reads my blog, but I know she wouldn’t want to be identified, so I’ll just say this: you know who you are, and from the bottom of my heart—thank you.
- The Tally Supporter – Looks a lot like the Unconditional Supporter, but be wary—this support comes at a price. This “Look What I Did For You” friend is a dangerous one. The trouble usually manifests when they begin to tally up what they did for you during your weakest moments and unsuccessfully try to relate it to something irrelevant. Please remember, grief is selfish, and you shouldn’t feel indebted to anyone for doing things that you didn’t ask for.
- The Occasional Supporter – Calling this one a supporter is an incredibly generous statement, because they are normally far more hurtful than helpful. This is the person that you don’t have regular contact with but loves to hit you with the “How’re you doing, really?” when you don’t want to be bothered with invasive questions. I’ve only ever responded to these with curt, short statements, and they’re usually not very nice. Of course, this is a “do as I say, not as I do” teaching moment, so find your blanket statement responses, and have them ready to hurl at these Nosy Nancys.
- The Triggered Supporter – This one is a tricky one. This is someone who may love you, but your current situation may mirror their own a little too closely. These people will (and should) choose their mental health and remove themselves from the front lines of your grief so as to not trigger their own. At first glance, this may feel like abandonment, but rest assured, it is not. They are doing you a favor by simultaneously protecting their mental health, and refraining from making your grief about them.
Which type of supporter are you?