My heart hurts.  My heart hurts for the kids who lost their moms and their dads.  For the parents who won’t hear their child’s voice again.  My heart hurts for the husbands and wives who will crawl into bed alone.  My heart hurts for the families whose lives were changed in an instant.

A man fired into the crowded Vegas strip on October 1, 2017, at a Jason Aldean concert.  At the time of this article, 59 died and over 500 were injured.

I’ve read the stories.  The story of the husband and wife celebrating 30 years of marriage- he’s sleeping alone tonight.  Of the husband that shielded bullets from his wife so that she would live, but he didn’t.  Of the screaming.  The running.  The desperation in trying to survive.

I don’t know what drove this man to this act.  We can argue genetics, mental illness and environmental causes.  We can even argue about gun control.  What I do know is people are hurting.  I know the pain of losing a loved one.  My own brother died in a car accident when I was just a kid.

When life changes in an instant, how do you create a new normal?  How many times do you pick up the phone, only to realize she’s not going to answer?  What do you do with all her stuff?  Little things like setting the table…. even having to grab one less plate is a painful reminder that she’s not coming back.

Hopefully you don’t know anyone injured in the Vegas attack, but life does happen.  Car accidents change everything in an instant.  Babies get too sick.  Grandparents say goodbye.  Soldiers don't come home.

Grief is uncomfortable.  Not knowing what to say or what to do is awkward. 

Here are the top 3 ways to help her when she's hurting:

  1. Send a condolence card and include a favorite memory of the person. There’s something special about knowing the person lives in the minds of others.  If you didn’t know the person, then include a favorite story you’ve heard, something inspirational about the person or even a few kind words (“I know he was a great man because he raised such a beautiful daughter”).

  2. Sit quietly with the person. If you don’t know what to say, it’s ok to admit it.  Say “I’m not sure what to say, but I’m here for you.”   This is better than trying to come up with a way to cheer the person up.  Sometimes a person in the room during a Netflix binge is therapy by itself.

  3. Find a need and fill it. There is so much to do when someone dies.  And life still happens in the midst of funeral arrangements and travel arrangements for out-of-town relatives.  You can start a mealtrain.com account and have others sign up to bring meals throughout the week.  Other ideas include washing laundry, vacuuming floors, washing dishes, shining shoes, babysitting and picking up relatives from the airport.

 

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About the Author

kristenhodges

Kristen lives in Florida with her awesome husband and 3 energetic kids. She earned a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a psychology professor at a local university. In her free time, she hangs out with family and friends, volunteers at her church and laughs as much as possible. She has a passion for Jesus, helping others and anything chocolate. Follow her on instagram @kristen_hodges_cg