Any NCIS fans out there?
I've become obsessed with this show recently and have watched every episode. It's pretty great. Cute boys, strong women, and they always get their man. It's all tied up in a very neat one hour episode. Lots of closure.
Well, Gibbs, the main character, has these rules. I have no idea how many there are, but all of his team has to know his "rules." They refer to them all the time, by number. The only example that I can give you is a bad one, but it's "Never Apologize. It's a sign of weakness." While I don't agree with this, it's one of the rules that he sets out for his team to live by. I have no idea how he came up with the list, and I'm pretty sure that the list has developed over time, and that they're not given in order of importance.
This brings me to my point. There is no widow handbook, or a handbook on how to deal with widows, or people that are grieving, for that matter. So maybe I can help you all know what is helpful by making my own "Gibb's List" of rules, or maybe we should call them suggestions, for things that you should never say to a widow. We're all figuring this out as we go, so this will be the first one, but it does not necessarily rank highest in order of importance.
Suggestion, or rule number one: Never tell her that you understand what she's going through.
Here's the thing: everyone has had grief in their life. We're all on the scale. All grief and loss is important and sad. I think that it's amazing that people want to empathize with me. I know that most of the time, people who say these things to me are trying to love me. I choose to focus on this, but this definitely takes a lot of grace. We all deal with grief in different ways, and grief is so multi-faceted, that it's just different for everyone.
Even with other widows, even young ones, our experiences are all different. Some lost their husbands to cancer, so they had time with their husbands to plan what life would be like without him, making their loss different than mine. Some had children, which for me makes me jealous, that they'll always have a piece of him, but for them maybe has been a huge hardship. At any rate, we can't compare grief. We can't keep score (because if we did, I think I obviously would win, but then, when you're in the middle of your painful experience, you probably think that you'll win, too, which is why I think we shouldn't keep score). But we also can't know what a person is going through, and it's extremely painful when people tell me that they understand.
A friend of mine sent me this quote from Henri Nouwen: