Just Know That She’s Exhausted

March 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm 28 comments

How to Help Your Grieving Friend, Part 2

We’re going to begin this series with some of the assumptions you can probably make about your grieving friend. That way, if you understand some of what is going on with her physically and mentally, you can help in an informed way, and not just be grasping at straws for what you think might be helpful.

It’s been helpful when my friends have been aware and understanding of how tired losing Felicity has made me. In my experience, grieving took more out of me physically than I was expecting.

At first we were so wired and numb that we were staying up until 2:30-3:00am every night, just wasting time. Life felt really pointless, and we had little motivation to take care of ourselves. Not that we were on a terribly self-destructive course, it’s just that life feels so trivial and small.

So, obviously we were feeling pretty tired when we were staying up until the wee hours of the morning. But did that stop us from doing it? No. Eventually the pendulum swung the other way, though, and we were going to bed around 8pm. And I could sleep until 8am the next morning and still want to go back to bed by 11am.

(Confession time: Abraham still lets me sleep until I wake up (around 8am) and gets our son out of bed every morning and gets his breakfast so I can get sleep. We’ve found that I require more sleep than he does, normally, but especially in this time of grief.)

Also, sleep disturbances were really common for me. Once I got to sleep, if I woke up for any reason, getting back to sleep was really difficult. Everything from waking up to go to the bathroom to horrific nightmares would interrupt my night, and once I was up, I could count on not getting back to sleep for a couple hours.

In the loneliness and quiet of the night when you are the only person awake in your house, thoughts come fast and furious. So even if I was sleeping, it was often extremely fitful. I felt like I was sleeping in 1-2 minute segments. Thankfully I’ve been experiencing less of that now.

And of course, if your friend is grieving over a later miscarriage or infant loss, they have the physical recovery of delivery to deal with and hormones that are attempting to re-regulate.

It’s hard to know what to do when your friend is this exhausted. It might mean that you bring dinner or go to the grocery store or babysit her kids—we’ll get to some of these incredibly important practical helps soon. But it’s important first to just know your friend’s physical struggle.

We are weak human vessels. When there is a lot going on in the mind and heart, the body just can’t sustain a normal activity level. Know that for your friend.

(Read other posts in this series.)

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How to Help Your Grieving Friend She’s a Scatterbrain

28 Comments Add your own

  • 1. April  |  March 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Hi,
    I happened upon your blog after reading the poem your husband wrote that was on the DG homepage. I’m very sorry about the loss of your sweet baby girl. I do hope the Lord is healing you and your family. I’m sure others who are going through this will find comfort from someone who has been there. And also the advice for friends or family is needed as there are usually a lot of people impacted by such a loss and just don’t know what to do. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    April

    Reply
  • 2. Angela  |  March 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Molly,

    I appreciate your advice and vulnerability. I remember reading your father-in-law’s blog last September and weeping and praying for you and yours. I cannot begin to understand what you and Abraham have been through, but I do greatly admire your faith through it all. I also am grateful to God for His work in your heart that allows you to minister by being open and honest. No doubt that He is using you to help those that have experienced on their own, or know someone who has experienced, this same loss.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • 3. dorothy  |  March 26, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Reading, lurking and crying with you all again. Why don’t you plan on coming over next week and I can get your shoulder wet in real life? Call or email – we should be over the ick by then. I do think it’s time for #10 to join the brood – but only if that’s God’s perfect plan.

    Reply
  • 4. Dustin  |  March 26, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Molly,

    Thanks for doing this. I pray that you will find even more healing as you bless others through your pain.

    Dustin

    Reply
  • 5. robyn  |  March 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    molly – thank you for sharing this. your openness sheds so much light on the subject of grief and somehow breaks a barrier of discomfort some people have around those who have lost children or loved ones. i can only imagine, through your words, what it must have been like to lose Felicity. I’m so glad you are able to talk freely about her and express how your feeling and remember her. we are still praying sweet sister!
    lots of love!
    robyn

    Reply
  • 6. robyn  |  March 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I also wish I could have been there to watch Orison for you, bring you groceries, bring you dinner, and be there to give you some time to rest. I’m glad that you are getting better sleep these days.

    Reply
  • 7. J. Evans  |  March 26, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Wow, how true. After experiencing loss myself, though not as late or tragic as your family, the after fog is unbearable. I look back on countless hours staring out my window, with my mind racing.

    I pray for you often. I would love to sit and visit with you sometime, As I’m sure many people do. :)

    Reply
  • 8. Laura H  |  March 26, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I love this…I too have been through loss and have wanted to tell my friends all these things. Just being whatever it is you need to be….having people just give you the time and space you need without abandoning you is so huge. Rest sweet mama….

    Reply
  • 9. jonamie  |  March 26, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Molly-
    Allow myself to introduce myself. My name is Amie and I lost my sweet baby girl two years ago last month. She was born right into the arms of Jesus right before delivery just like your Felicity. Thank you for sharing about your journey to encourage others and help friends grieve. I have been doing something similiar in my “blogging world” to try and help others find meaning in loss. I believe that when you experience great loss you have a choice to become greater through the loss or allow the loss to diminish you. My prayer for your family is that through Felicitie’s life and death you will grow through your loss and in allowing yourselves to deeply grieve and somehow through that grief God will grant you the grace to more clearly know and love Him.
    That being said my heart aches for you. Two years out has given me the desire to share pieces of my journey with God as I struggle through Marylou’s stillbirth…perhaps you will find comfort in reading someone who is still grieving deeply but a little farther down the road. Praying for you.
    -Amie
    Writings on Grief and Loss

    Reply
  • 10. puremotif  |  March 27, 2008 at 5:08 am

    this is really great advice especially for those who are close enough that you can help them in this way!

    Reply
  • 11. Valerie  |  March 27, 2008 at 6:10 am

    I have been one of those silent readers of your blog off and on lately. Thank you for this series. We have only had the smallest taste of this kind of loss with a very early miscarriage over the summer, so I echo the thoughts of another “commenter” who is looking for ideas to help friends (especially when we are one of those couples who really has had no problems having babies).

    I think of you, your family, and your experience often…usually with tears to accompany those thoughts. All too many times in my day I want to complain about bickering siblings, a whiny baby, or a sleepless night, but I try to catch myself and, instead, be thankful I have these “bothers” in my life.

    I am also so thankful that God has allowed me to see (even if it was usually from a distance) how the road He chose for you prepared you for this and molded you into an amazing woman! A reminder to me that His hand is in each and every day.

    Reply
  • 12. Molly  |  March 27, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Thank you all for the encouraging responses. I look forward to people like Amie being able to give perspective that is further along in this process (6months vs. 2 years), or anyone else who would like to give feedback!

    Reply
  • 13. Andie  |  March 27, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Molly,
    Do you find that the depth of exhaustion is lessening with time, or at 6 months is it just as deep? I’m wondering how to think about this for someone like you, who has a bit of space from losing Felicity. Do you find yourself wanting to engage in outside activities more now, or are they burdensome?

    Reply
  • 14. shawnda  |  March 27, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Thanks friend. As I told you before, I’m really looking forward to this. I feel like….must be our age??…..I have lots of grieving friends right now. And this is going to be so helpful! You just confirmed more of what I read through More Love to Thee : ) Have you bought that book yet?! : ) In her grief, she was incredibly exhausted, and got to a point of insomnia that went through waves through her life of better and really hard, but she never fully “recovered” from it. Her husbands tenderness during all of this was really sweet to my heart. And I can see that Abraham has been very tender toward you during all of this – I’m so thankful! Praise Him!!!!

    Reply
  • 15. Molly  |  March 27, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Like Shawnda said, I find that the tiredness comes in waves. And in all honesty, what I can take on for the day depends completely on the day. Some days I am going all day (yesterday was one of those where I started at 9am and didn’t stop until 10pm). That usually means that I try to take it easy the next day.

    I have been very hesitant to get involved in outside activities that are commitment-based. I had the opportunity to work more right now, and instead I’m only working one day/week so that I wouldn’t feel overcommitted or have to back out if it gets to be too much.

    I’m still not looking to do too many outside activities. I find that our life has gotten simpler since September, mostly out of necessity, but that we’re liking it that way.

    Reply
  • 16. Stephen  |  March 27, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Thanks for this series. My wife and I suffered a similar kind of loss in October. We look forward to reading future posts.

    Reply
  • 17. Clare  |  March 27, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Molly,
    Thank you for your honesty and openess. I am praying for you and your family. I am suffering through the valley of grief and loss also. I lost my 24 year old son in an automobile accident on Nov. 25 2006. Even though it has been more than a year now I still have days of great pain. One thing I know, if I didn’t have the Lord to give me His strength to walk through this time I could not bear this. Most of the time I feel I have come along way in this journey of pain and loss,but then there are times of such pain and heartache that I feel as if I can hardly stand. After the first six months of my loss I decided to get a job caregiving for the elderly. That was the real turning point for me to receieve healing. As I spent time with these people in need I began to focus on them and less on my pain. God has proven himself to be faithful to me even in my darkest moments.
    Everyones’ grief process is different so please never try to compare yourself to someone’s else’s progress. I tried to do that and it made me more depressed.
    God will walk with you (or even carry you) through this, just allow yourself the time it takes for healing. Don’t set expectations on where you think you should be in the healing process. It is not bad or wrong to have days that you feel like you are going backwards. Just remember that others are praying for you who do understand your pain.
    God is faithful no matter how it feels or what it looks like.

    totally depending on Him, and praying for you
    ~Clare

    Reply
  • 18. Molly  |  March 27, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Thanks, Clare. I’m so sorry to hear about your son.

    Reply
  • 19. Robin (the pensieve one)  |  March 27, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Your words and wisdom will be helpful here; for those who haven’t suffered this kind of loss, it’s always difficult to know what to say or do when friends or family experience it. Just hearing the mind, the inner, unspoken thoughts, will help towards that understanding.

    May you be blessed as you become (more of) a blessing to others.
    :)

    Reply
  • 20. Jessica  |  March 30, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog.

    Reply
  • 21. Amy  |  March 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I was brought here by a comment left on my blog. I am grieving the loss of our 7 month old daughter who died February 10 of this year. So much of what you are describing here is exactly how we have been living, especially the staying up late and feeling as though things were so meaningless. As life begins to “normalize,” I see where there is no such thing as “stages” of grief, I waffle in and out of them all…a string of good days is followed by a string of bad days. A happy moment can come shortly after a really sad moment. And we all grieve so differently. I prefer to grieve alone, my husband prefers to grieve with someone. Consequently, it often looks as if I am not grieving properly b/c very few people ever see the grief that floods me at night when I am alone w/ just my husband and I can hardly breathe as the tears come fast and furious. Thank you so much for helping those who have never experienced this type of loss to understand where we are and how to help us. Would you allow me to link to this series on my blog?
    Blessings,
    Amy

    Reply
  • 22. Crystal  |  April 1, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I just found your blog, and I’m overwhelmed by this post. I’m so sad for you, but it is also refreshing to finally see someone put what I’ve experienced into words. So many times we hear about the joy and triumph on the other side of the trial (which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong), but it’s not so often that we hear someone aknowledge what life is like in the midst of it.

    I’ve said many a prayer for you guys since I heard about your loss. It brought up so many emotions from our experience with our precious son. If you’re interested, you can find our story here: http://crystaln.blogspot.com/2008/03/davids-story.html

    Thank you for being so open about the reality of grief in your life. I’ve had so many people aknowledge to me that they just don’t know how to respond.

    Reply
  • 23. Crystal  |  April 6, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I’m recovering from Post partum depression and many of the sleep issues you speak of are a symptom of depression and the regulation of your hormones. Not to lessen what you are experience… not by any means. Your body is going through regulation and you don’t have a baby that your body thinks it should. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  • 24. eclexia  |  April 12, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you for this series. I am a relatively low energy introvert, but I had always been able to keep my batteries recharged. Then, after intense years of moving and traveling a lot, I entered into a struggle with burnout. And, on top of that, a bit later, was added grief. Sometimes I need to be reminded that grief exhaustion is a “normal” response to grievous things. This post, in particular, helped me to human-size the reality of my exhaustion a bit. I’m so sorry for your loss, even while I say thank you for sharing from your experience words that comfort and help others.

    Reply
  • 25. sumijoti  |  April 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you for this series! All of it!

    It helped me understand that I am not alone. It is good to see that I am not the only person who has stayed up until crazy hours of the night just wasting time.

    Reply
  • 26. Laurie  |  May 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    C.S. Lewis said “We read to know we are not alone.” Thank you for this blog that is a window to your heart and life. I just found it today and I have laughed and cried. It is a blessing to me to know that I am not alone in the restlessness that comes with sadness.

    Reply
  • 27. Tamara  |  January 4, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I typed “how to help a grieving friend” in google search and your series came up. I am so glad I found it! One of my best friends suddenly lost her husband 2 days ago. She has 2 very young children. I have just not known what I should do or say to help her. This blog series has giving me more of an understanding of what grieving a loss like this is going to be like for her. I know reading this is going to help me be a better friend to her during this painful process. Thank you again for sharing what you have been through and what you have learned from it.

    Reply
  • 28. RaiulBaztepo  |  March 28, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Reply

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