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How Can I Help My Friend With Her Grief?

We want to bridge the gap between the griever and her supporting friend.

All too often we hear that friends disappear after the first couple of months of initial grief. Grieving a loved one is a lifetime endurance. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, it’s one of those things you just don’t know until you know. But that shouldn’t stop a friend from trying. Let AFTER help. 

AFTER will remind you of the special days and offer ideas on how to help your hurting friend. We will be your calendar and keep you on track. You won’t have to wonder what to say or if you are doing enough. 

Are you grieving yourself? We offer healing words from real people who have been in your shoes. Lean on us for comfort. 

The more people talk about the grieving process, the more honest conversations we can have. The more people realize we are all in this together, the more we can heal as a society. Let’s start with AFTER’s founder, Lisa Marie. Here is her personal story about her loneliness during the first few years of her grief:

My brother Dan killed himself in July of 2014. My family was understandably in shock for a long time. Even months afterward we still couldn’t believe it at times. My friends and community rallied to my side when they heard the news. I had more support than I knew what to do with. How could they help me? What did I need? I had no idea what I was going through; I certainly couldn’t tell them anything since I had never been in this situation before.  I felt the love and support that they offered none the less. 

The funeral came and went. The family that had visited flew home.  We all went back to work. And that’s when the grief actually started.

Dan’s ‘after’ birthday came up first. That day was hard. He would have been 35 years old. This day emphasized that this pain of grief would not just go away—every year, every birthday would be a reminder that life stopped for him, and that my future would always have this emptiness in it. His birthday was a gut retching, fall-on-my-knees-screaming kind of pain. I don’t remember who was around for me to lean on. I was still so distraught, my brain fogged by grief. 

I do remember Christmas, however.

I can count on one hand how many of my friends and family reached out to me that day—knowing that I might be having a hard time. I knew people were busy with their own families; it’s Christmas after all. I am not one to ask for help, so I didn’t. I thought I was strong enough to get through it. (I didn’t partake in any festivities, no tree, no cookies—nothing happy) The longer the day lasted, the more selfish I got. I think it was mostly because not only were my supporting friends not reaching out to me, they were having a joyous good time with their (alive) family. I was downright bitter.  I survived, however, and moved on.

I’ve made peace with it since. I still love and cherish all my friends and family. I don’t blame anybody for not understanding (well there are a few people… we are being honest, right?).  You don’t know until you know. 

I knew my friends wanted to help. They just didn’t know how or when. 

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a service out there that could help guide supporters to be that great friend that remembers to check in? 

When I started AFTER I knew that I wanted to help fix this problem. Everyone grieves differently, but all I wanted was for my grief to be acknowledged. I didn’t want to feel alone. There is no fixing grief (grief comes from the love you had for another human, and that is beautiful) but there is something we can do for each other, and that is to show up. To text, call, ring the doorbell, write the letter, or send the gift and say ‘I acknowledge that you are hurting.’  That’s it. You don’t need to fix, offer solutions or platitudes. My personal favorite phrase is ‘this sucks.’ Simple and to the point.

We are all on this planet, together. Grief touches us all. So why does grief have to be so lonely?

-Lisa Marie

A little bit of work, in the beginning, will pay off for years to come.  Together, let’s illuminate grief.

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