A: Write her a letter. Then burn it. Get this out of your system, and be done with it. There’s no need to go back to the past. In fact, dwelling there is dangerous. The situation is over, you’re hopefully wiser as a result, and now you must release it. Remember: Gazing in rearview mirrors causes crashes.
Q: I have a wonderful friend who lost a daughter (22 years old with two children) to murder. It has been about two-and-a-half years. She has made great strides in dealing with her grief and truly moving her own life forward. There are long periods of time, however, when she fixates on the lost child while nearly ignoring the children and grandchildren who are still here. She plasters her Facebook page with pictures of her daughter, writes about her, and seems to forget important moments of the living children’s lives. I feel like her children are starting to react to living in the shadow of their now “sainted” old sister in heaven. Are there ways I can help the kids without alienating mom during her continued waves of profound sadness?
A: I have cogitated upon this question for some time. And I’ve come to this: In the midst of this profound tragedy lies a life-changing opportunity for you. With the mother’s blessing, become like an aunt to the kids. Celebrate the important moments with those children. Step in as a conduit of love, attention and support. Of course you’ll need to respect the familial boundaries, but your activities with the kids will help mom turn back toward the living as well.
Find out what the children enjoy doing, and do it with them. Get them out in nature. Go to the movies and the library. Tour a local college so that they are thinking about their futures. Have a sleep-over at your house so that they’ll have a respite from the heaviness of their home. Also consider things that will lighten the mother’s load with the kids and grandkids. Encourage her as she makes progress. Possibilities abound.
On a practical note, see if the children are receiving professional help. If they are not, offer to connect them with a counselor and other resources. There is no quick fix for any of the family, but you can be a powerful agent of healing.
Most of all, I advise you to pray about it. Talk with God. Ask for guidance, listen hard, and expect the Grace of an answer. It will most assuredly come.
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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at thecrackerqueen.com.