Bad things come in threes.
Sad but true, and as much as I’d love to ignore this little superstition, it seems to have once again unfortunately entered my life. Two dear friends recently lost their spouses, dying much too young. Another friend’s wife has taken a turn for the worse in her battle against my biggest nemesis: pancreatic cancer. It is truly heartbreaking.
Knowing I’ve traveled thru this storm before, friends have been calling and asking “What can I do? What helped you through?”
Flashing back to that moment stirs feelings of unimaginable sorrow, but also reminds me of the overwhelming downpour of support, strength and love that immediately flooded in. While I appreciated every casserole that filled my fridge, every heart-felt note handwritten with love and every single act of compassion and kindness that came my way, what helped me the most came all in the timing.
A few months after my loss, I had experienced another bad trio. A time I call the “Three Month Fall Out.”
It was at that time when condolences, meals and phone calls dwindled down to a trickle. People went back to their day-to-day lives and while I may have appeared on the outside to be a functioning widow, on the inside I was not. Three months out, and no longer numb, was when my real grieving process began. I knew my village wouldn’t desert me and at a moments notice would be there for me, but they had given so much and I started feeling guilty asking for more.
Luckily, I didn’t have to. There were a few intuitive soldiers amongst my crowd who, after mentioning my feelings of support “fall out,” decided to make a pact. Teaming together, they marked their calendars each month and took turns checking in. They gathered my kids and took them on adventures, sent me gift cards to local restaurants, stopped by to clean my house, picked up groceries and delivered fresh hot coffee and scones — staying with me to sit and talk and listen. Each and every month they came. They weren’t the only ones checking in on me — but they were the consistent ones making sure each month would be filled with some face to face time, assistance and care. The continuation of their support helped immensely to carry me through my grieving and healing process.
So, when friends ask what they can do to help…
I encourage them to consider (along with the initial condolences they immediately send) gathering a mutual friend or two and making a pact. Set up a monthly calendar starting at three months out and offer up a little extra continuing support for the forth, fifth and so on months to come. You’ll be helping to alleviate their “Three Month Fall Out,” and contributing in making this particular “bad things in threes” situation become obsolete.