The “Grief Public Service Announcement” Series was created to assist those, supporting others who are building a path of  healing. You can access prior PSAs by using the “Search” function on the website.  This Grief PSA #6 was originally shared in August 2021.

We can support those we love who may be grieving by making note of two important dates (three, if they lost a spouse.)  They are:

  1. The birth date of the person who died.
  2. The date the person died.
  3. The wedding anniversary date if they were married.

Mark these dates down as recurring, in whatever calendar management system you depend on. These dates, no matter how many days or decades it has been since they changed the life of the person in grief, will always be imprinted on their minds. Your loved one may never bring them up, but by you knowing they are looming, you can easily be present to that person.

A couple of ways to do that are to send a card, a text, flowers, or to ask in a chat “Do you have any special plans this week? I think this is the week of your Mom’s birthday…”. Or “Do you do anything special to mark the anniversary of your wife’s passing? It was just about a year ago at this time right?”

When you reach out, make it short and sweet. If your loved one wants to connect more on the issue, they will let you know. But if they don’t, respect that privacy too.

One of the biggest challenges I have experienced on my own path of healing, is the isolation that comes from feeling alone, like no one understands. And it’s true, our own idiosyncratic experience of loss is unique in many ways. But the common thread of isolation can be ameliorated bit by bit, when those who love us simply acknowledge our loss in some small way.

If you want to get fancy and spend a little scratch, try sending them some form of self care indulgence. For example, a spa gift certificate, a gift card to their favorite restaurant, a gift card to their favorite store or have something special shipped to them, like a candle, a soft blanket, or a book of meditation or something you have enjoyed.

Ultimately we can’t fix the broken hearts in those we love, but we can help cradle them by showing up, not just when someone dies, but in the weeks, months, and years that continue to pass as your relationship with that person hopefully grows or remains intact. As we have said before, it never goes away.

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