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A warrior survives loss in their life and finds the light to illuminate darkness. A grieving warrior can be supported and empowered, and I’ve learned how this comes about.
Many of my friends have suffered loss. I cried through the sudden death of my best friend’s father, saying to her over and over, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Never did I know that these words don’t help at all until my brother died suddenly of an overdose. He was my only sibling and my little brother. We shared everything and I imagined we always would.
When I got the call out of the blue on a Saturday afternoon in Jamaica, I screamed endlessly. Strangers ran into my condo, and an old Jamaican lady I had never seen before patted my back as I folded into the floor; she repeated over and over, “never mind, never mind, never mind.”
The next week of tears, memories and hugs continued with “sorry’s.” So many people sorry, and all I could think was, “why are you sorry, you didn’t have anything to do with this.” I even said it once and got a laugh.
To this day I have not read the five stages of grief, because I want to experience this process fully. I want to feel my feelings without compartmentalizing them as stages. I have, however, come to realize what helped me.
These five realizations came from my experience, and I hope they help you to empower a grieving loved one in your life.
1. Reach Out.
A warrior wants—scratch that, needs—to feel the love and support from their amazing friends at the time of their loss. Messages, emails, voice notes and even phone calls. Show up to offer a hug; a moment of silence can mean the world.
2. Tributes Last a Lifetime.
Flowers wilt and die, especially condolence bouquets that are so large they cannot be moved anywhere. If flowers are a must, go for a beautiful orchid that will blossom again and again.
The most amazing tributes last a lifetime. You can name a star after the person who has passed, in their astrological sign; you can plant trees in their name that will grow endlessly.
3. Special Treats.
Food goes bad and is usually thrown away—especially homemade casseroles and such. If you feel like bringing or giving food, a warrior might love an Amazon delivery of chamomile tea to sip on sleepless nights or dark chocolate-covered almonds when the need for a sweet crunch calls. Something that won’t go bad is always good!
4. Silence and Patience.
Warriors will process death in their own very unique way. Give them space to be in silence, share in laughter and be held in tears. They feel what they ought to feel, and telling them to “be strong” or to “be sad” will create a sense of frustration that you may not mean to bring out but might block their natural process of healing.
5. Share Memories.
Don’t tiptoe around a grieving warrior! They will smell your bullsh*t from miles away, and now more then ever they won’t put up with niceties that aren’t genuine. If you knew the person they have lost, celebrate their life with them. Don’t be afraid to talk about the dead like a ghost that will haunt you; bring them back to life time and time again, as this is how a warrior lives.
Support a warrior in celebration, in reflection and in unconditional love.
In closing, you may still be wondering: What do I say? What are the words that will soothe their broken heart, soften their anger and heal their sadness. I am sorry; I want to say “never mind,” make them laugh and take their pain away.
The most beautiful thing my mom and I were told by a dear friend of Adam’s was, “There are no words.” We hugged in silence, the tears flowing towards peacefulness.
Author: Sienna Creasy
Editor: Toby Israel
Photos: Used with permission from Susan Currie