I have written a lot about how wonderful my friends and family are. Lately I have been thinking about this in broader terms – community. Something tragic happened in mine recently. Because of this tragedy, a friend commented to me “it is wonderful that we live in a community where there is so much support”. I couldn’t agree more.
When something terrible happens, it is helpful when so many people step up and rally around the family. Having that support is so needed in the first few weeks.
I remember receiving a condolence card from a woman I knew. She was an acquaintance – I didn’t know her that well. She wrote in the card “this is such a tragedy that affects our whole community”. That was the first time I thought about it in those terms.
Obviously Howie’s death affected me, my girls, and our closest friends and family tremendously. But I later learned that it did affect others. A woman I know told me that she ran to an emergency appointment with her therapist when she heard about Howie because she was so upset. The middle school had an assembly with Amanda’s grade to explain to them what happened.
I know that Howie’s death frightened many people – they thought that if this could happen to our family, it could happen to theirs.
I hope that maybe it had a positive affect on some. Maybe people went for check ups just because Howie’s death made them nervous. Our tragedy and others reach a much larger circle of people than I could have imagined.
When I think of a family having to go through such a loss, I now know that it takes it’s toll for a lot longer than those first few weeks. It can last for months or even years.
Most people probably don’t realize this – the community rallies – it affects so many – and then it dies down. When it hasn’t happened to you, it is easy to pay your condolences and go on with your life. There is nothing wrong with that. I understand that life goes on.
As a community, we should realize that those affected might need support for longer than a few weeks.
Maybe try to think of that family in three months and see if they need anything. Or reach out during a holiday (holidays can be very hard) to see if they are ok. Or just send a little note through FB and say you are still thinking of them. It can really mean a lot.
I obviously don’t know all, just my own situation. I know that it meant so much to me to have hundreds around in the beginning. But it also still means a lot when I get a message five years later from someone I haven’t spoken to in years just to say that I am in their thoughts.
So, once in a while let someone know that you get it – that life does go on but you are thinking of them and always wishing them well. A community of caring is important always.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.
Stacy, I couldn’t agree with you more. It will be a year since Paul’s stroke and I still get cards in the mail from people I barely know telling me to hang in there. Just yesterday, my neighbor (the daughter of a friend) brought me a homemade soup she had made. Some people tend to forget what you are still going through and do go on with their lives and that is normal. Your post is timely as I think about you, where the loss of your dear Howie is still is affecting the family. There are others struggling with tough situations too! It hard to keep going but the “kindness of strangers” really helps! My love to you and your family, Cathy
I am at the beginning stages of the loss of my husband…….I have received countless cards, phone calls, text & facebook posts from so many loved ones. It’s been amazing. The outpouring love, support & hugs has been such a blessing. We’ve even received food from a few families to get us through those first couple weeks. I do understand where you are coming from when it comes to having that continued support & I only hope & pray that we do receive that in the coming months as well.