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Grief and “Helpful” Others

They are out there, those well meaning folks.  They may want to “help”, run, or ruin our lives. Then there are the plain old crazy people that show up when a death occurs.

I’ve experienced the range of help from the most amazing outpouring of love and help from friends, family and church members to insane hurtful things from friends, so-called friends, and family. I’ve learned that grief can bring out the best in people and the worst.

The most crazy experiences are something out of a story book, something that happens to someone else certainly not anyone I know. Here are a few crazy things that I or clients have experienced.

For me, hours after the initial news of my husband’s death, the insurance company of the lady who killed him called to settle.  Yes, that really happens! They wanted me to verbally over the phone settle for $12K! My husband’s body was barely cold! Boy, did they get an ear full. I went totally NY crazy, screaming and cussing at them. Unfortunately, I feel bad for the poor person doing their job but, wow, the SAME day? What nerve and what a horrible job.

After a memorial service the family & friends were gathered at the deceased home. It looked normal – piles of food, people milling around, visiting with the widow, crying and grieving. However, in the quiet background well meaning people were breaking into the widow’s locked filing cabinets to assess her finances. A friend confronted them and they explained they were helping her. How on earth could you be helping her when you didn’t ask AND had to break into the filing cabinets?  Who knows what information was seen, taken or used. So sad, so hurtful to the widow.

How about the well meaning friends trying to get you to date way too soon after the death of a spouse. Trying to get you to go out on a double date. Augh, like that is helpful or wanted. What do you say to them?  My words, “No thank you, I’m not ready yet.”

How about a long lost “friend” showing back up and immersing themselves into your life. Worming their way in and taking over chores and becoming a “helper” you never asked for or wanted.  How do you turn them away? How do you explain all I see is you are after the drama of helping a widow? What is that about?

There’s the all too common story of the caregiver or housekeeper that stays on after the death continuing to “help” and you know darn well they are either stealing or looking for a payout.

Oh and then there’s the old lost girlfriend/boyfriend from high school suddenly calling or emailing you right after your spouse’s death. What the heck? Ewww… freaks is how it can feel.

My message to you is: be aware there are well meaning people out there. There are also some people to be aware that may not have your best interest in mind. For them it’s the drama or their guilt, or mental illness. They are out there – both the good and the bad. They come in the strangest packages. Be aware and keep yours eyes open.

Know what you need from people. Know how to say yes and no. Gather a solid support system. Get the help you need and want. Be aware and be ready as you can. Remove the toxic or unhelpful people.

We are here to support you and please share our resources!

Much empathy and blessings,

Teresa Bitner, PMP, M. Ed., ACC
Resiliency, Change and Loss Specialist

If you have a story about your “helpful” other we’d love to hear from you. Please share with our community.