This week marked one year since my dad passed away.
Many people will say that the year flew by, that it seems like just yesterday they were talking to him.
For my mom and I, that hasn't been the case. It feels like an eternity since I last saw his face. Since I last heard his voice. Since I hugged him.
We have had a really beautiful year so far...the dairy is bustling, our children are thriving, and every day I fall a little bit more in love with my husband.
But at the edge of it all, teetering in plain sight, was the grief that I carry for my father. Not a single day went by that I didn't have to catch my breath to stop myself from crying. About three times a week I burst into tears.
Grief is a funny thing.
Except it's not funny.
And so it got me thinking.
How do you help someone grieve?
I'm lucky enough that my village has grieved with me this entire year. Never once have I felt alone in my sadness.
What an amazing gift I have been given.
My people. They just seem to know what to do.
Without fail, I know, they'll listen. If I have a dream about my dad, or I'm having a particularly hard day, they'll listen. They don't try to solve my problems, or suggest things to do instead of thinking about my dad...they just listen.
Probably we don't do enough of that for each other.
Not every problem has a solution. And grief is one of those.
We've also celebrated this year. For my dad's birthday we went to the Museum of Flight, a perfect way to honor a former fighter pilot who had a continual thirst for knowledge. We decided that every year, from here on out, we would honor his birthday by going to a museum.
But perhaps the best thing my people have done for me is to ask questions.
"How are you feeling today?"
Too often, for whatever reason, when someone dies, we avoid the topic. As if to bring up their name to the person who is suffering we'll remind them that they lost their husband, their father...their person.
Let me be the first to tell you.
They didn't forget.
And for you to acknowledge that you also didn't forget is powerful in so many ways.
99.9% of the time I will answer this question with a, "I have good moments and sad moments." And then I will change the subject. Because honestly, if you're not one of my people I have a hard time conjuring emotions (I'm like a cat that way). It's the asking that is so powerful. It's saying, I know this thing happened in your life, I know it must be hard, I am honoring your challenge.
And so, this is my public service announcement, for all the people out there who may be wanting to help someone grieve.
Don't treat to fix it. There's nothing to fix.
Don't ignore it. It will sit there like an elephant in the room making everyone uncomfortable.
Speak their name. Share a memory. Offer a listening ear.