When bad things happen to good people, the calvary arrives soon after with food and flowers. Level surfaces soon fill with cards expressing condolences and well wishes. Money is collected to help with both normal and unexpected expenses. Friends and family all want to help and being unable to change the circumstances, they respond with whatever loving gestures they can.
At first, the attention is overwhelming. The outpouring of affection comforting. But eventually, the letters stop arriving. The casseroles are consumed and their dishes returned. The dried flowers have been relegated to the bin. The calls to check in are fewer and further between and when they do occur, their is an undertone of impatience that the crisis wasn’t over once the initial offerings faded.
And yet the need is still there.
The loved ones still care, but they’re busy with their own lives. Consumed with their own problems. And perhaps most of all, they find it difficult and uncomfortable to sit for any extent of time with the harsh realities that life can bring. It’s easier to simply pretend it isn’t there.
Our culture is uncomfortable with grief. With pain. With anger that rises unprovoked. We’re expected to be gracious at the onslaught and then to suffer in silence so as to avoid the discomfort of those around us.
The initial outpouring of support is needed. It’s the transport when you cannot manage any movements unassisted. But it’s rarely enough.
Both because grieving does not speak calendar and because it’s a journey that often requires assistance.
Which is why I propose another way to support those going through crisis – a contribution to a well-being and mental health fund.
These monies would be earmarked towards services and modalities that help support mental health and healing – therapy, medications, retreats, specialized trauma care, mind-body practices – whatever is deemed applicable and helpful by the recipient.
The benefits are multifold. First, it helps to normalize the idea that attention towards mental health is important and should carry no more stigma than care towards the physical body. It allows the professionals to pick up where the first responders left off, helping the person move through their grief and pain. Contributions to a fund signify that grief is a process, not an event. It allows that it will be ongoing for some time. And most practically, most insurance plans only address mental health needs at a minimum and the fund can help to make up the difference. A mental health fund is a gift that truly can keep on giving because it will help people regain their lives after crisis.
I’d love to see an app or website designed and marketed around this idea. More of a Please Comfort Me instead of a Please Fund Me. Any programming-minded takers?