Grieving is part of healing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2002

This week, my friend’s mother died.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

This week, my friend’s mother died.

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What do you say? How can you help ease the pain of the loss?

How do you get through the grieving process? How do you help someone who is grieving another friend asked?

I asked my friend how I could be of the most help to her. She said she would like me to be with her when she went through her mother’s things.’

I remember doing that with my sisters. Each piece of clothing, jewelry and piece of paper with her writing held a memory. We talked about them and conjured up a few old memories, laughed and cried and healed.

One friend said it helped that friends of his brother, who lived in another state, talked to him about his brother. They told him, "We are glad you shared your brother with us."

It also helped him to give his brother a military funeral – something he also thought his brother would want, and to stand by his grave – to have a place to ‘go to talk to him.’

I found it comforting that there were so many people at my mom’s funeral.

How did she know these people? She had a life I knew nothing about, her work life. Those people shared stories of my mother, how she’d helped them get back on their feet after losing their jobs – how she gave them back their dignity.

Wow! What a thing to hear about the woman that canned beans and played two-handed whist with me and never saw my flaws.

Some cultures deal so naturally with death.

I had a friend who was from Columbia. She married an American and moved to the United States.

When I came to know her, she had children and her mother-in-law was quite sick. None of her husband’s siblings could face their mother’s mortality.

When her mother-in-law died about a year later, her contribution and gift to the family was a tradition in her country. She cleaned her mother-in-law’s body before it went to the funeral home.

Something I thought was so unusual, but since have learned it’s just another custom.

She had no fear of death and dying.

Laughter is another way of helping those who are grieving. It cures sadness and gives us a perspective that we lack while going about the process of dealing with the daily reminders of that person who is missing.

For years I couldn’t go to funerals. I would do my part at the person’s home.

Make food, transport people to and from the airport, and anything but attend that sad ceremony of death, until my grandfather died and I watched my grandmother move through the process of grieving.

Funerals, planning, music cards and ‘luncheons’ – ceremony – are for the living

If I’ve learned one thing, over the years of comings and goings of life, it’s that we need ceremony to begin and end things.

Call Ailene Dawson at 434-2235 or e-mail her at