I let the answering machine take the calls from my friends. Their messages were the same, “We would like to get together for lunch, spend time praying for you, and help you in any way we can.” I admit, I ignored them by quietly pressing delete on the answering machine, content to be alone in my grief fog.
More messages followed. I knew I had to tell them I didn’t feel like getting together. I’m sure they would understand, right? David had just died. I was in pain. I didn’t want to see the pity in their eyes, or the sadness they felt.
But they didn’t stop calling. They loved David too.
Eventually my husband Mike discovered I’d blown off my friends numerous times. Yep, I’d been found out. I couldn’t avoid it any longer, at least not where Mike was concerned. I had to come clean.
I told him I didn’t want anyone to see me. I didn’t want to eat, talk or listen to their in-depth prayers for me or for our family. I didn’t want to hear some of my own groaning come to life through theirs. Does that even make sense? It made sense to me. Bottom line; It would just stir up the hurt I was already struggling with. I didn’t want to hurt any more than I already was.
I expected Mike would not let this go, and he didn’t. He said, “Let them love, encourage and pray for you Jan. This is time just for you and you need it.” He was right. I probably did need this. I reluctantly reached back to them.
I told my friend whose home we were meeting at that I would come over for a morning visit. I didn’t want to meet over lunch because I was prone to nausea with no warning. I wasn’t able to eat much anyway. She was happy I’d changed my mind and assured me she would keep it simple; coffee and homemade rolls. No pressure for me to eat, and that was freeing for me.
I nervously walked through the front door of the house, saw four women who loved me sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me. They asked how they could pray for me. I couldn’t even explain to myself what I needed. How could I possibly explain it to them? I just wanted David back and it was hard to put into words what only came out as audible moans. I just asked them to pray for our healing, knowing it encompassed much more than that.
I could feel the floodgate of emotions coming, and then the tears. “Why did this happen? How can I live without David? I miss him so much! Mike and Daniel are hurting. Why did God allow this? Can we survive this as a family? Will my marriage survive? I don’t care about cooking, laundry or cleaning. I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat again. I have no energy to do anything. I don’t care if I wash my hair or paint my nails. Nothing matters right now…how can I suddenly stop mothering him?”
By this time we were all crying. Their hearts broke for mine as they listened.
Then it came time for them to pray for me. My heart was overwhelmed and humbled. I sat with my eyes closed, allowing their loving words to wash over me. It was draining but it was good.
In the weeks that followed, these beautiful women organized a meal delivery plan with our church so I wouldn’t have to cook. They had listened to my heart’s cry and my physical struggle, and they immediately focused on what they could do to help.
Honestly, it felt more than awkward. I had always been on the giving side of this; taking meals to others, etc. but when I put my sorrow and pride aside, and allowed my friends the opportunity to serve, I was so thankful. It was such a blessing during a numb time in my life. Each meal made us feel cared for; prepared by loving hands for someone whose hands weren’t able to. I’m so thankful my friends didn’t give up on reaching out to me! I’m thankful I reached back to them!
Seven years have gone by, and we still get together on a regular basis. We love and encourage each other through whatever this big bad world throws at us. I’m thankful for the support and thankful to reciprocate.
It’s hard to imagine anyone could help lift our burdens when we’re struggling with the pain of losing someone we loved deeply, but I hope you will allow me to gently encourage and challenge you, just as my husband did with me; ” Let your friends love, encourage and pray for you. This time is just for you and you need it.”
When people ask how they can help, let them. Cleaning toilets, delivering a meal, picking up prescriptions, mowing the lawn or helping with laundry. Beyond that, pick up the phone and tell them when you need to talk. Your not a burden to them. They love you and want to offer you an encouraging shoulder to cry on. Let them. It’ll get easier each time.
In what ways have your friends helped you through your journey? I’d love to hear about it.