My name is Kreed and I'm writing today to get some advice on a problem that I've been having. Well it's not really a personal problem, but it does concern me.
A little back story. I got a job at Sonic back in September. A few months later this goofy looking guy comes in for a job. Well we hit it off and we become pretty close. In December his roomies kicked him out with only a few days notice, I come to the rescue and let him stay with me until he found a place. During that time we get closer, and I'm totally not complaining.
We haven't even known each other for over half a year and we're as close, as close can be. I wouldn't have it any other way. I missed the great friends I had in the Army, only to find a civi that became better than any of my Army buddies. I know he has my back, and I sure as hell have his. We talk computers, music, anything. I could have no idea what he says, but I listen, captivated to everything he has to say, because this man is a wealth of information. It's so fascinating.
Now comes the problem. This man watched his mom's boyfriend slowly die due to Covid. Watching his mom be completely torn apart by that. Now he got the bad news that his mom has late stage Lung cancer. When he told me a few months back, I knew it was taking all he had not to cry at work as he told me. Through my check ups on him I found out his mom is trying to prepare him for what seems like a very possible outcome with how advanced the cancer is. Problem is, he is not ready. I doubt he will be ready.
I know for certain he will be calling on, and needing his bestie by his side. Only problem is I have no clue how to handle this. I'm 32 years old. The only death I've experienced was when I was very young, or as an impartial party as an EMT. I don't know what to do.
Papabear, what do I do? I know this is devastating for him, especially since he's a self proclaimed mama's boy. How do I prepare myself for this eventuality, can I even prepare myself for it?
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It's so nice to see a letter from a furry who is being a true and thoughtful friend, so thank you very much for your letter.
The first thing you need to know about comforting a friend who is grieving (or in anticipation of losing a loved one) is that you should not try to offer them advice or make them "get over it." And if you say, "Your mother is in a better place now," your friend has Papabear's permission to thump you on the head with a rubber mallet.
Some things to know about people who are grieving: 1) grieving people are not worried about their loved ones (especially if they believe in a heaven or other afterlife world, but even if they don't they know that the deceased is not suffering); they are sad for one thing only, and that is because they miss that person and know they will never see them again in this lifetime; they are sad for themselves; 2) grief has no deadline, no time limit. My late husband died 6 years ago, and even though I am getting along and have remarried, I still miss him and grieve for him in my heart.
There ARE things you can do, however! First of all, when someone has recently lost a loved one it can often be difficult for them to function in day-to-day life. All you want to do--especially in the early weeks, months, and sometimes years--is sleep, cry, maybe eat, or, sometimes, try to numb your pain with alcohol or drugs. You can help by just assisting with routine things. Perhaps help with laundry, cooking meals, doing a bit of house cleaning, etc. And, of course, if you see them descending into dangerous habits like alcoholism, you need to get them some professional help (perhaps his church offers counseling, or you can go to a site like BetterHelp.com or call the government helpline at 800-622-HELP (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline).
Now, since your buddy's mother is not dead (and hopefully won't be for a while), you can still offer similar support, even maybe accompanying him for visits (if that is possible). Let him know that you are there to listen to him talk about his mother and his feelings. You have no idea how much of a relief and de-stressor it can be to know that you have someone you can open up to about your grief without fear of judgment and without fear of getting cliché advice ("Buck Up!," "Hope you feel better soon!", "We all die sometime!" and other horrible phrases). Thing is, you don't have to say one word to be helpful. You have already shown what a good friend you are, and that is priceless. Just continue being there for them.
You should recognize, too, that being a comforter to a grieving person can be stressful for you, too! You can only help others when you yourself are doing okay emotionally and physically. So, do remember to take care of yourself as you help out your friend, and don't feel guilty about doing so. Along those same lines, one of the good pieces of advice I got from a couple of friends was that you should try and do something a little nice for yourself once a day, even if it is a small thing. You can kill two birds with one stone by doing something together. You could go out for an ice cream cone, play a favorite video game, go on a nature walk. Or whatever the two of you enjoy. Such distractions can help a person who is weighed down by grief, which is very exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is important to try to continue to eat well, get restful sleep, and to get some exercise.
I hope this is helpful. If you have other questions, please feel free to write again.
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