I have a stock-standard answer that I give when people ask me – and they always ask me – how I survived the death of my daughter Georgie several years ago.
And it’s this: I was saved by friends and strangers; one lasagne at a time.
It’s true. In those early weeks and months when my strangled heart was so desperately heavy that it threatened to drag me below the waves – small kindnesses were my driftwood. Lasagnes appeared on my doorstep.
Cards and flowers and letters and homemade baby socks and Christmas decorations bearing my daughter’s name arrived in the mail.
Friends secretly organised weeks of gourmet meals to be delivered. Others paid for cleaners or offered up a weekend at a holiday house on the beach. Then there was the group of girlfriends who banded together and bought me three months of boxing lessons with a personal trainer so I could start to feel strong again.
Then there was one friend – not a close friend but a friend nonetheless – who simply sent me the prettiest floral handkerchief. I’ve never forgotten it.
I look back now and the first few weeks and months after Georgie’s death are a bit of a blur. But what it gave me is a lesson in grief.
Not just in living through every parent’s worst nightmare but in seeing first-hand how to care for someone who is grieving.
How often when someone we know goes through a tragedy, do we immediately ask, “What can I do?” And we’re met with silence. Of course we are because someone who is grieving usually has neither the energy nor the inclination to delegate tasks. Just getting out of bed and having a shower is a mammoth effort without having to work out how your work colleagues can ‘help’ you.