I was suddenly widowed on a beautiful spring evening last April, when my husband went in to cover an extra shift from another crew on a rig move. Something broke or failed when they were lifting part of the rig floor. My husband was in the subfloor area, had no where to go and no one had made certain he was clear before they started to lift the floor. I am still half way in a fog most days. But, these are the things that helped and continue to help me get through each day.
One friend said to me: there are no words, I'm sorry doesn't cut it, so all I can do is tell you I love you and give you a hug. (BEST BEST WORDS)
Same friend said to me: Your only obligation to all of the other people is to tell them when and where the funeral is and it is up to them to get there etc.
Bring toilet paper, KLEENEX, paper plates and plastic ware. . .brilliant ideas I had never thought of before but helped tremendously, especially the Kleenex and toilet paper.
I knew immediately that the emotions I was experiencing were far beyond my control, the thoughts going through my head were insane and disjointed and bizarre, so I went to my physician immediately and asked her about talking to someone. I immediately began meeting with a counselor and that was both life saving and sanity saving. I was able to just talk about my husband, my pain, my fears, loss, guilt, etc etc and I was able to do so with someone who didn't know my husband, didn't know me. So while the counselor was compassionate and empathetic, I did not have to worry about inflicting my pain on him when he too was grieving.
Talk, talk, talk, tell stories ask people to share their stories of your husband. The absolutely most comforting things have been the stories. I posted on my Facebook page and asked for stories. I received dozens of stories, many I didn't know, that showed just how many people my husband touched, even in small ways -- young, old, friends, colleagues, so many it was beautiful. I go back and reread them.
One of my daughters set up a memorial page for him on Facebook as well and people may go and post there. It's been almost nine months now and the postings have tapered off, but it has become kind of a conduit for me, a place for me to write to him, to talk to him, to talk about our marriage and how things have changed, memories. Love letters if you will from me to him and shared with those who care to see or read.
One of the hardest things for me, was to encounter other people, who were overcome with their own grief at losing him, because I wanted to be able to comfort them and yet my own pain was so incredibly raw.
Also, realize that it will change your status and will change how you interact with your group. My friends have been wonderful and supportive but they often worry that I will get sad during events, or that they have to alter how we do things because suddenly I am the widow in the group. They are doing it in the most loving spirit and mean no harm at all, but it is different.
And, perhaps the hardest thing for me to have managed is this: Grief is an exceptionally powerful demanding entity. It rules you and not the other way around. I am on the whole a pretty private person and I have been horrified more than once because I just burst into tears and CANNOT stop, no matter who is there, no matter where we are and so it has become a lesson in humility. Everyone kept saying to me, don't internalize it, it will only come out in some other damaging way and it always made me want to laugh because this is the first thing in my life that I have been unable to control when it comes to my behavior and emotion. So I finally just accepted that the grief was in contro and let it happen, surviving the mortification of crying in front of people, being emotionally over wrought has in a sense been liberating and healing in its own right.
I hope there are some kernels of helpful info in there. And, big hugs for both you and your friend. I will remember her in my prayers.
I am so sorry for your loss, Lauren. I sought counseling, too, for much the same reasons...and the nice thing is that it helped and we can heal. Fr. Fred told me the morning David died that I had started the next part of my life. That didn't happen for me until 4 years later. I am so glad it happens for others sooner and hope it has for you. Thank you for posting. I am sure your experience will be helpful as the OP continues to look for ways to help her friend.