Death’s Heartache, Love’s Memory

The rising sun on July 10, 2009 marked the dawn of a new era for not only the Valentine family, but the entire Penn Manor community.

The death of Secretary Heather Valentine’s son, Cory, happened on that day.  And, as the community gathered to provide any modest support they could provide, the question arose in many: how is it best to support someone who is grieving.

This community reached out quickly to the Valentine family.

“Penn Manor has been a very supportive community for our family,” said Valentine.

This poses the question: what are the dos and dont’s for comforting and grieving with your friends?  With various attitudes about death, that’s no easy question to answer.

Penn Manor counselor Kimberly Marsh made it seem pretty straight-forth:

Do: understand that everyone handles things differently and to be there and listen

Do Not: change the subject when they talk about it, set a time for when you think they should be over it, or act as if you are their counselor.

Marsh also made it clear that: “They will probably never ‘get over it’ and they will have to deal with it day by day.”

And this is true with Valentine, “Cory’s never off my mind. He’s constantly on my mind. It will be with me the rest of my life.”

sometimes its hard to know how to help a friend who is grieving.

Senior Jenn Stumpf suffered two traumatic loses in her lifetime. Her brother was killed in 2004, her father in 2007. Her biggest help through all of the grieving: friends.

“The things that helped me the most were hanging out with friends every time that I could and staying on my daily routines. Not laying around and thinking about it all the time. It’s good to keep your mind off of the things the most you can,” said Stumpf.

Stumpf also provided some advice if you would ever find yourself in a similar situation, “I would tell them to keep their head up and stay positive. And reassure them that everything will be okay.”

Bri Delinger, Cory’s sister and a Penn Manor senior had additional advice.

“Be more compassionate,” she said.  “I would appreciate if people would be more supportive… be conscious of feelings when they say certain things.”

To summarize, do not try and be the counselor, no matter how much you think you may know, you really do not have a clue. Every person handles a situation differently, while some refuse to handle the situation at all.

There is so much pain surrounding the death of a loved one, but the stories and memories shared are worth more than anything. As the old Irish proverb states, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

By Tyler Barnett