I’ve got a guy who should have been my go-to for support. He was one of the only people I knew who had been where I was and was kind enough to offer to be my person when I needed help. He had experienced heart-breaking loss, not once but twice, and would understand my pain. He should have been my go-to, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t because I didn’t know how to let him in or ask for his help.
I can’t tell you how many times I almost called him. I would lay in bed at night sobbing and feeling broken beyond repair. I would tell myself, tomorrow I am going to call and ask for his help. Then morning would come and I would decide I didn’t need to make the call. I would tell myself I could do this without bothering him. I didn’t want to be a burden on him or be perceived as weak by anyone. I would repeat this over and over for months, even though he kept telling me “I am here when you need me”.
This was a person who knew me. Mike and I had been friends with him and his wife for years. We had taken trips together and had shared a lot of love and laughter with them over the years. So why couldn’t I bring myself to call on this person when I was in need? It was partially that I didn’t want to be a bother, none of us want to feel like we are a burden especially when we are grieving. We already feeling vulnerable and emotionally drained, we are not willing to add to our burden by having others think of us as less than strong. I also think it was hard for me to do anything that might lesson my grief. It was as if I needed to feel my pain as much as possible, that I wouldn’t be honoring Mike’s memory if I did something to diminish the grief. I’m not sure that makes any sense to you but at the time this was where my head was. Of course, I know now how wrong I was for feeling this way. How much anguish could I saved myself if I would have just reached out and asked for help?
This is something we all struggle with, asking for help. We shouldn’t expect to go through this journey alone, yet this is exactly what we do! Why are we so afraid of being perceived as needy or weak when we ask for help? As women we are taught that we need to be strong and as men we are taught to never let them see you cry. You are not doing yourself any favors thinking you need to take this journey alone. When we need help with something we don’t understand we seek out someone with more knowledge than ourselves and let them help us. If you need to put a roof on your house, and have never done it, you are going to either ask someone with experience for help or you are going to hire a professional to do it for you. Why can’t we do that with our grief struggles?
Admitting we need help is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t mean we aren’t capable humans. It means we are smart enough to know when we are dealing with something bigger than ourselves. Grief is not something we can or should do alone. There is no shame in needing another person to lend us a hand. Try to seek out someone who has been where you are and can empathize. It could be a friend or family member who has had their own experience with grief. Find someone you trust and let them in. There are support groups out there that are for people experiencing grief. There are non-profit groups, church-based groups and therapy groups. If you feel the need, seek out professional help. A lot of employers offer counseling services as part of their benefits package or as an insurance benefit. Find one that works for you. I am hoping to resume my peer support groups in September so if you live in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area I will be able to offer you another option. Whether you find a person or a group to help you, please learn from my mistakes and let people in to assist you on your journey. Allowing yourself to lesson your grief burden is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a guy. Thank you, Bob, for offering to be mine, even if I wasn’t smart enough to take you up on your offer.