• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 155 (Guest Blog: Understanding Circles of Grief)


    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  0.00 miles;  Running Total: 83.16 miles)

    Day 155 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    [I spent the day on the couch.  I even missed a family Christmas celebration because I felt like crap.  So I’m deploying one of my guest blog posts.]

    Since I’m not Meghan (I’m Tina) it must mean that Meghan took a much-needed sick day. I wrote up a few blog posts for her to use in case she felt she needed them so she can get through her next 100 Days Of Good Karma/Silver linings.

    I’m going to talk about something that has always been hard for me: saying the right thing. Or also alternatively titled: doing the right thing.

    I want to help. I so badly want to help when crisis hits, but sometimes I’m terrible at it. Growing up in the country, we’re taught to “stay out of the way” and “give people space.” At the same time we’re encouraged to bake a meal and send it over. It depends on the relationship with the person as far as what level of help is acceptable.

    And that’s where I start to doubt my ability. Am I the right person for the job? Am I just making things harder for the person in need? Did I overstep my role as a friend? Did I assume I was closer to this person than they are to me? With every thought come counter thoughts along with a burning need to help. I think part of it is the overwhelming realization that no amount of “help” provided will make the crisis go away.

    My parent’s house burned down over the summer and there was no blog post I could write, no casserole I could make, nor any amount of worrying that would bring back my mom and dad’s home.

    Confession: before I became a writer I was a school psychologist and counselor. I led grief groups, was trained in handling various emotional situations, being more empathetic and all sorts of other neat skills. But I still don’t have any answers.

    I know the basics. Things most people know instinctually to do like listen, offer empathy, don’t judge, and also be specific when offering for help. I used to tell people “Let me know what I can do to help” and learned a person was more likely to take the help if I offered something specific. “Hey, since I’ll be by later, why don’t I do the laundry for you?” or “I just made a huge batch of lasagna sauce, I could totally make it into two lasagnas instead of one and drop it off after I pick the kids up from school.”

    A few years ago my sister in law Tammy posted a few inspiriting Ted Talks and I stumbled onto this:


    It basically sums up the circles of grief and helps people who feel paralyzed that they’ll say/do the wrong thing. The explanation worked for me and made sense. It helped me develop another skill in the language I use around people who are in a crisis.

    Also note that this is my thinly veiled thank you to Meghan for providing such an honest view of what she’s been going through. It helps people like me on the outside understand and maybe have more empathy for the situation. I love comments! I’m open for a discussion about the topic above or just send Meghan your well wishes. If she’s posted my ramblings then it means she must feel pretty cruddy.

    [Today’s silver lining:  Thank you again to Tina for filling in when I can’t. ~Meghan]

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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5 Responsesso far.

  1. Epbj says:

    Sorry you didn’t feel up to writing and missed your party. That was a very helpful post from your friend.

  2. Leslee says:

    Your such a good friend Tina!! Glad Meghan has you in her corner!!!! 🙂

    • Leslee says:

      Oh!! Silver Lining tho! Christmas Day all the family will be together at the Ranch! That will be a party Meg won’t miss!!!!

      • Tina Smith says:

        Thank you, Leslee! Also sad to hear Meghan missed a family party. But hoping that this chemo will be like the last two and she’ll feel better to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s?

        Hang in there Meg! I hate that you have to do this, but I imagine the cancer screaming as it dies.

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