"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
The Dalai Lama
On September 11, 2001, the United States of America suffered the senseless act of terrorism.  This tragic event has brought a huge amount of suffering and mourning to our country. It is important for us to unite together like never before and assist our brothers and sisters in their pain. Here are some things we can do to help.
1. Presence.
Just be there. It is not so important what you say. But the mere fact that you are present can make a profound difference. Be handy with tissues, listening, sharing, making eye-contact, holding hands, a gentle hug.  All of these non-verbal things give the message of I am here and I acknowledge your pain and suffering. Be sensitive to the mourning period. Keep checking in 5, 6, 9 months later, they may still need you.
2. Food
While grieving, most people tend to starve themselves. Food that is high in nutrients and easy to eat is the best -- wholesome finger foods, like fruits, vegetables or chicken.  Try for things that are quick to eat, clean, and show you care. Remember to ask about or even follow your loved ones' eating habits. Chances are they will not remember when or what they ate last.
3. Support for Decisions
Mourners are typically depressed people. When we are depressed we do not tend to make great decisions. We simply don't care to do so. Try to put off big decisions as much as possible. For those that cannot be put off, muster as much support as possible in order to make sure the decision is made properly.  Try to get a designated spokesperson, if possible.
4. Intuition
Use that intuition.  Chances are that if you believe your loved one is sinking into deep depression over their loss, they probably are. If you think they are not eating, sleeping well or their coping skills are nonexistent, you are probably correct. Pay attention to EVERYTHING in order to better assist their recovery period.
5. Listening
While we grieve we have huge mood swings going from complete shock, inability to respond, to talking nonstop. When your loved one begins to share, whatever they share, just listen and keep listening. Keep them talking while they are capable of it.  Whether it makes sense to you or not does not matter, their mind is processing the reality of their situation. Talking is healing.
6. Giving
Whether you give time, food, flowers, money, or yourself, giving to the mourner is critical. Sometimes just answering the phone can be too much for them. Simple tasks such as bill paying, opening mail, laundry, dishes, getting groceries, can be too overwhelming for your loved one.  But be careful, let them know what you are doing so that you don't unwittingly cause more pain.
7. Let them cry.
Often we tell mourners not to cry. We do this because we hate to see them in pain, but we are also afraid of our own pain.  Don't force them to hide their pain by rejecting them.  The best thing you can do is comfort them, even cry with them. Whatever you do, don't make them stop!
8. Involvement
We tend to want to shield our loved ones from pain.  However, being a part of the process can help later when they are ready to heal. Also, if we shield them too much we may cause them even greater pain in the end. Also be prepared for them to reject being involved. Don't force them if they do not want to be involved in key decisions.
9. Wait to remove possessions.
This is a very sensitive area but can cause great pain.  Sometimes in an effort to help our loved ones we become a master packer. Be very careful to get permission for everything you are packing away. Also be careful not to wait too long. Sometimes, a loss can cause someone to reject the movement of anything of the deceased. This may be  a sign of deeper problems.
10.  Poetry, song and scrap books.
Reading poetry, or singing songs of support, religion and love often provide comfort to the grieving.  Put together a scrap book of special memories.
By Suzanne Gibson, who can be reached at
suzanne@discoverresources.com, or visited on the web at http://www.discoverresources.com
Copyright 2001 CoachVille
Life is different now. Here are some questions to ponder, acknowledge, and prompt action:
1. What must I mourn?
2. Who around me needs my support and help?
3. How can I help them?
4. What needs to be said that I could not say before?
5. What must I celebrate daily?

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