EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a letter written by D. Loren Whipple, Hospice of Naples Bereavement Services Coordinator. It is a collection of information gathered directly from bereaved persons.

Dear friends:

I know one can receive without giving for only so long, but I have not yet had enough energy to return the attention I’ve received. I know the mourning process varies with each individual, so I have no idea how long this will last. Though I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I have no idea how long the tunnel is.

I can only ask that you stand by me as long as possible. Mostly, I need you to be a good listener. Please don’t try to problem-solve. This is not something that can be solved. I need your support as I go through my “process” and the best support is your ear and your attempts just to understand or accept. So many of my thoughts and feelings just need to get out, they just need expression. Sometimes I may say or do things that seem strange to you, but I am in all new territory myself. Since most of us don’t have much experience in loss, and have not received any education in it, I don’t know what to expect of myself. I do believe that healthy expression is the key –if only I can be patient with the process.

If I have trouble being patient with my path, I know it must be difficult for you also. It is not easy to feel helpless watching another grapple to find his or her way. So let’s try to be honest with each other so that neither of us feels like we are walking on eggshells. If you want to know what I want, ask. If you need permission to talk about loss, ask. If I wonder if it is okay to discuss something with you, I will ask.

There may be times when I cry. This is healthy, and it doesn’t mean I am “losing it” or “falling apart.” These upsurges of grief will pass, but I must be able to express them.

I need special attention on significant dates. Sometimes I may need a ride or an invitation to dinner. Sometimes I may need to talk. Many times I won’t know what I want.

To the extent that it’s comfortable for me, I will try to regain as much as I can of the “me” that you used to know, but I will be changed. Parts of me must be redefined, and new parts are emerging. I can only hope you like me even better, but also I realize you may be uncomfortable with the changes. You will see me differently either because of my behavior or your perception of my new status. I hope we can hug about our changing relationship and strengthen it.

With love,

Loren

Bereavement Magazine June 1993

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