I finished a book awhile back that talked a lot about Jewish custom and culture and one of the customs they mentioned is the practice of sitting shiva. Shiva is simply the Hebrew word for seven. It's the practice of friends and family members of mourning with the ones who have lost a beloved family member. For seven days there is a solemn gathering at their home. People may come and go but everyone observes this period of mourning with proper behavior and observance.
When I read it, I loved the idea of it. I loved that they so openly and unashamedly grieved and acknowledged their loss with befitting behavior and true compassion (which, in Greek, means to suffer with).
We have been so blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and family during this time. The outpouring of love and support and prayers just blows our minds. I responded to a friend's comment on yesterday's post that in some sort of supernatural way I believe you guys are helping us bear some of this burden.
Someone suggested however that I should post the following as a helpful resource for those who are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. Molly Piper (daughter-in-law of John Piper) and her husband lost their daughter at 39 weeks and 4 days. Her writings have been tremendously helpful for me and she is the one who compiled the following to help others help their grieving friend. And I hope this extends far beyond us. I know we all know grieving people and I hope it helps you as much as it helped (helps) me.
I will say right away that for us it's ok to talk about our Grace with us. We want to talk about her and remember her. It will probably make me cry but that's ok. Crying is good. I promise not to use your shirt to blow my nose. I'll use your sweater instead.
Thank you for loving us so well.
How to Help Your Grieving Friend by Molly Piper
Part 1, How to Help Your Grieving Friend
Part 2, Just Know That She's Exhausted
Part 3, She's a Scatterbrain
Part 4, There is No Timetable
Part 5, She May Explode (But Probably Not)
Part 6, She Can't Grieve on Command
Part 7, Ask Her Specific Questions
Part 8, Avoid the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers
Part 9, Always on My Mind
Part 10, 10 Tips for Bringing Meals to a Grieving Friend
I have to say, I almost didn't post this one because our friends have been absolutely amazing in bringing us meals and we haven't cared one tiny bit if any of the meals followed this guideline. We've just been so thankful to have one less major thing to think about a day and that people have loved us so lavishly in this way.
Part 11, Cleaning Her House is Next to Godliness
I have to say with this one too, we've been very cared for. We were selling our house in anticipation of one) moving into town, and then two) moving into town to be nearer to the hospital for her care after her birth, and then three) learning that we would be relocating to Seattle indefinitely because her cardiologist was very certain she would need a heart transplant. Obviously, we have a different ending to our story than we had planned. But that means we're still closing on our house in two weeks. Our friends and family have totally come to our aid. Bringing us boxes. Setting up a time to come clean after we're moved. Offering their basement. Helping us look for an interim place.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.