Loving the Bereft

My favourite photo of Kent and me.

My favourite photo of Kent and me.

P1070561A year ago today my dear, dear friend Kent died.

There are too many things to say. I said some words about Kent last year that you may like to read here. He was an exceptional man.

Instead of trying to tell you in new words why I miss him and why it is a tragedy that he died so young, I want to say something practical about grief.

It has been a hard year, and I miss Kent. But I am only on the periphery of the life-altering, engulfing grief that surrounds his family. His wife is recording some of her experience of grieving at Griefprint. She is a gifted writer and this may be one of the clearest windows into raw grief you come across. 

My small contribution on this anniversary is a piece of advice that has come up more than once recently: please do ask a grieving person about their lost loved one.

You won’t be upsetting them – or not more than they already are. You won’t be reminding her of something sad – she’s already thinking about him constantly.

We’re often too ginger in the West about this stuff. It means that the bereft get few opportunities to talk about the person they love and miss. How awful to never get to speak about someone so important to you!

So ask your Nana about her wedding day. Ask your friend: what were some of the best things about her son? Ask your uncle what he misses most about his wife. Ask what they would have liked most about Christmas this year.

Pick your time and place, and ask if they want to talk about it, obviously. It can be a great gift to be allowed to talk about something most people are afraid of bringing up.

God bless the grieving ones.

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0 comments on “Loving the Bereft”

  1. Katie Reply

    This is something I realised a few years ago when nobody wanted to talk about a friend of ours who passed away in his early twenties. This was exceptionally hard for my friend Emily (his little sister) and his mum. The conversation may be a hard one and end or begin with tears but it’s always a conversation worth having.

  2. Anna G Reply

    Great advice! During my Tawa teaching days one of my colleagues husband’s passed away suddenly while they were overseas travelling. Three or four of us 20 something teachers initiated a regular dinner with our widowed friend (in her 60’s). I don’t remember how much we talked about Peter but I am sure these evenings were more fun than cooking for 1 at home or eating out alone.

  3. Jenny Bucksmith Reply

    I wish I could talk with Angela about Kent today. We will talk another time. I like to talk about Kent – Michael and I have so many lovely memories that include him and Angela. I am sad today and I miss him too. Much love to the H family.

  4. Steph Reply

    “You won’t be reminding her of something sad – she’s already thinking about him constantly.”

    This is so true.

    I didn’t know Kent but I can only begin to imagine the grief that Angela must feel. She has been in my prayers today.

    I know from my own grief experience that it is very difficult to “say the wrong thing” to a grieving person. But sometimes it is wrong to say nothing.

    After my son was stillborn I really struggled with people who would talk about anything but the fact that I had just lost a child. It hurt when people made small talk and carried on as if nothing had happened, not even acknowledging his existence. My world had been turned upside down. My arms and womb were empty and my son was foremost in my thoughts all day, every day.

    The people I really appreciate are those (few) who are willing to talk about him by name. Those who acknowledge his life and the gaping hole that he has left in mine. I love it when people ask questions about him and remember how old he would be now.

    In early days of my grief, you were one of those people Thalia. You didn’t know me well, but you acknowledged my grief and that meant a lot.

    My heart goes out to those who are grieving today.

    • Caroline Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss Angela & can’t begin to imagine how you have coped over the last year & how you continue to cope. I obviously didn’t know Kent, and hardly know you, but he sounds like an amazing person. Just wanted to let you know that I (and I’m sure others) are thinking of you over here on the other side of the world – so if you’re lying in bed thinking of him while the rest of New Zealand sleeps, then you do have some company – even if we’re a long way away.

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