A dear friend shared this article with me today. She is in my opinion, a reluctant self-made expert on grief & grieving; what to do as a friend of one grieving, and what not to do. She will quietly celebrate her son’s birthday later this month, as he passed away almost 5 years ago at the young age of 19. He was a beautiful boy and a wonderful neighbor and friend to my children for those 19 years. This article is a gentle reminder….
The Best Gifts Are Never Wrapped
October 15, 2013, by Joy Johnson
It had been one of those truly terrible really bad, horrible, awful days. Marv, my sweetie of nearly forty years had gotten bad news when the doctors had tried to dilate his esophagus that had been beaten and battered with cancer and radiation.
We put our foreheads together in the recovery room and cried. We sobbed. It was worrisome, bad news.
We went back to our hospital room for one more night at the med center. I stretched out my chair-bed and pushed it as close to his hospital bed as it would go. It was quiet, and while Marv drifted off into a deep, relaxing sleep, I stayed awake. I couldn’t sleep. My whole body was restless.
Our care tech was a man from South Africa named George. He had one of the beautiful accents that are musical when he talks and he came tip-toeing into the room at 3am to take Marv’s vitals. He was trying to be so quiet. I said, “You’re dark George, but you’re not THAT dark. I can see you.” We laughed. He checked Marv, then I said, “George, can you put Marv’s bedrail down so we can hold hands?”
“Certainly!” he smiled. “How long have you two been together?”
“Nearly forty years,” I answered. “We have not only been together, we worked together 24 hours a day. We founded a grief resource center called, Centering Corporation.”
He looked at me. “I have been there!” He looked closer. “You were the lady who helped me.”
George had experienced a lot of grief. He had immigrated to America and his immigration status wouldn’t allow him to go back to South Africa when one month his mother died the next month his sister died and the third month his daughter died.
“I do not know where they lay,” he said. “But I came to Centering Corporation. I got six books from you and you advised me to go to The Compassionate Friends where I would meet other parents. I did and I was humbled by the grief of others. One family lost three children. I do not know how they could go on after three children had died.”
George can visit South Africa next year and find the graves of his mother sister and daughter.
But the gift had no wrapping came as he was leaving the room. He turned, looked at me in my chair-bed, holding Marv’s hand. Softly he said, “You have made my grief be easier.”
You have made my grief be easier.
That’s what you and what we do. And when someone thinks or says those seven little words, we are given a wonderful, touching gift. We have made grief be easier. I relaxed. I slept. George had made my grief be easier.