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Sunday, December 27, 2015

helping a mom friend who lost her husband by Kimberly Kearns Bryer

Kimberly Kearns Bryer is one of the strongest mothers I've ever met, seriously.

She's so devoted to her boys and in honoring her late husband's memory. He passed away from cancer a few years ago, when her littlest was very young.

A few months ago a mom posted in our Facebook group about what to do for her friend who'd lost her husband, something no mom could possibly understand without having gone through herself. Kimberly offered up some wonderful advice, and I wanted to make sure we featured it here on the blog so that it could possibly help you if your friend ever goes through this.

Thanks, Kimberly. You are one strong mother...

By Kimberly:

First, let me say that anything that you do, your friend will appreciate. 

Here are some things that stick out in my mind that really helped and meant a lot to me in the days following my husband's death, and beyond. But everyone grieves differently, so it's important to know and keep in mind your friends personality and tendencies.

Books about grief. Both for her and the kids. Not sure about religion, but I have some both religious and non religious that my boys still read regularly. A favorite for younger kids, Elmo! And it comes with a movie. That is something you can find online. A book I really enjoyed reading for me, There if you need me by Kate Breastrup.

Chocolate. Don't underestimate the power of chocolate.

The day of the funeral, one of my best friends thought to herself, "what would Adam want Kim to do today?" The morning of the funeral her husband watched all of the kids, and she and I went out for a girls' day. Starbucks and mani/pedis. This is exactly what my husband would have wanted. And I really enjoyed it. Let me also say that he had requested that I wear a red dress to his funeral, I looked awesome. Which made me feel a little more confident on one of the saddest days of my life. But this would be one of the things that it's important to know your friend and the situation. 

Anything for her and the kids to remember her husband by. Love the pillow idea! I plan on doing that for my boys, but haven't yet. One thing they were given and love is blankets that have pictures of them and my husband on them. They are really soft and wonderful. I have seen bears made out of an old shirt, those are really cool. Mittens out of an old sweater, were a hit with my family. 

I have made a photo album, any type of book of pictures/memories is awesome. I had a friend collect pictures from people and create a beautiful slide show/movie that played at the funeral, that's something I really appreciated and will be able to keep. 

A side note, I wish I had taken a few pictures at the funeral. Sounds a little morbid, but I was in such a daze. I know it was a beautiful event that elegantly memorialized the life of an incredible man, I just wish I could remember and visualize a little more of it. 

Food is always wonderful. Things/meals ready to be frozen. I only got a couple of meals, so don't assume that somebody else is doing it, I felt a little neglected. 

A lot of people are there right after the death. And that is wonderful. But continuing the support is really important. 

It really meant a lot to me when a friend brought over a movie, wine and junk food for a girls' night in after my kids were in bed about a month after he died. Things were starting to quiet around that point. So it was nice to know that I wasn't forgotten. 

I also really appreciated when people remembered the little things. Like taking me out to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The month of June was really hard for me, our wedding anniversary, his birthday, and both of our boys' birthdays. A friend of my husband's sent me a really sweet card just letting me know she was thinking of me and it had gift cards for special things for me and things to do with my kids. This meant so much to me. 

Remembering the six month anniversary and year anniversary of his death. Things like that will mean the world to her. And you'd be surprised how few people will remember and reach out to her on those dates. Any special dates that people remembered or reached out to me on really helped. Like a hard day for me every year is the Super Bowl. But only close friends of my husband would think of that. And that is special to me when they do.

Other ideas to support your friend through this difficult time:
  • plan a movie night with snacks for kids - take mind off it
  • do laundry, grocery shopping, errands, help with funeral arrangements
  • take her out for girl time, your partner watches all kids
  • care package- tea, books to read, massage gift card, chocolate, etc.
  • just go to the house to do whatever comes up
  • send flowers... frequently
  • make daddy pillows out of his shirts

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