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Break time. I was working on an edit for my friend in Pakistan and needed a second to clear my head.

I went to Facebook and checked for messages, when I saw comments going to my friend, Heather. Her fiancee died last night in his sleep. An autopsy will be done, so hopefully there will be answers next week, sometime.

I think I went into momentary shock, as the tears began to fall. I dropped my head in prayer with a silent plea,

God, please wrap your arms around Heather in her time of need. Touch her heart with your hand and help her through this difficult time. Let her know she is not alone. Amen.

I do not know what to say. It hurts badly, not because I knew her fiancee, but because of the horrible flashbacks his death brought into my mind. Coping with death is not easy for anyone.

I have lost 16 people I know and love between 2009 and 2012. The first one was my good friend, Ed. He was married to my ‘foster mom.’ I am so close to the family that I am family. And, Ed wanted me there at the end of his terminal illness, just as I had been there throughout his sickness. I was in the room when the doctor took the breathing tube out, because there was nothing more that could be done. We knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. This experience traumatized me as I sat in the ICU hallway, holding my sobbing and grieving friend because she could not handle being in the room when they did it.

And, while I won’t list all 16 deaths, I won’t forget my friend, Kim. Her death was traumatizing, as well, because she was only in her early 40’s. Her alcoholism led to the accident the night she died. She was drunk as hell and fell in the bathtub, hitting her head hard. Her friends helped her out of the tub and led her to bed, where her husband already was sleeping. He woke up enough to say good night and,

I love you, babe.

She was dead ten minutes later.

Or, my ex-boyfriend and one of my closest friends who committed suicide years ago. Or, one of my best friends, Tony, who was murdered in Tennessee two years ago. Or, my 48-year old cousin who dropped dead of a heart attack.

And now, Heather’s fiancee is gone.

What can be done to comfort the people left behind after death? Especially one that is unexpected and tragic? People die every day in every way imaginable. There is not much you can do accept let the person know you are there if they need you. The initial grief can last from days to months, and there is little you can do to console the affected people.

Ways to help in a situation like this and not overwhelm anyone:

  • Cook a week’s worth of meals that can be reheated and deliver them.
  • Send a condolence card, recognizing the loss. They will become sentimental keepsakes for someone.
  • Offer to help with household duties.
  • Raise money to help with burial expenses, as Julie DeNeen did for the Wheeler family whose sign was killed in the Newton school shooting.

These are just examples. The list of ways to help is a long list. But, most importantly, remember to respect the people involved and do not come across overbearing. Give them space to grieve in private.

That has done me in for writing today, and while I’ll try to do some work tonight, I know school resumes tomorrow. I have to download my syllabuses and make contact with my professors.

So, my writing ideas for today will have to wait until tomorrow.

Prayer

Prayer can bring comfort in times of loss…please pray for Heather and her family.

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