Rick had a few things he felt were important to post here, and then Randy did some editing. I’m just going to post their thoughts here – with no editorial control from me.
As we come to the end of our search activities and rely on what the police and SBU are doing in the criminal investigation, mom is trying to “reintegrate” – go to church – and the store and the gas station – trying to take up life again. So I thought I’d share a few ideas on what to say (or not to say) upon meeting. These ideas could apply more generally to other family members – but especially to mom.
The one greeting that we all use all the time is “How are you Sharlene?” But there is no good answer to the “how are you?” question. Should she say “Terrible”?, or “OK”?, or “Great”? None of these answers seem appropriate. And further, the question “How are you?” invites a discussion of all those deep and awful emotions that grip her (and us) in a time like this – and you might be the 24th person to ask this question today! Revisiting those emotions over and over each day – and putting them into words over and over – just makes recovery harder. In fact, our own speech has the single largest impact on our emotions- even larger than the words we hear others say. This is one reason Paul says, “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (or we could just as well say “speak about such things!”) So even though it is second nature to ask this “how are you?” question, consider trying a different approach.
So what do you say when you see mom???
You can’t just pretend nothing has happened! Maybe better greetings would include “So good to see you…” “We’ve been missing you…”, “We’ve been praying for you…”, “We’ve been praying for Jay…”, “We’ve missed your music…”, “So good to see you playing again…”, (mom is a musician – organ and piano — and you can probably give this greeting honestly even if you don’t like organ music!”) etc., etc. Then she can respond “Thank you so much” but not be forced to repeat everything that has happened. And of course you can always tell mom your favorite Bible text. These are so encouraging.
What would be best NOT to say.
I would recommend avoiding, “Did you think of this…”, “Did you try that…”, “What about calling so and so…”, “What if you tried…”, “If only…”, etc. etc. First, mom has not been directing the search or making decisions about what to do next. Further, almost every imaginable idea and possible solution has already been explored. While those discussions and findings have not been posted on the blog, be assured that the investigation has been both exhaustive and comprehensive. While these questions or suggestions may be well intentioned, they reopen inappropriate feelings of guilt that maybe she did not do enough. She has those thoughts anyway, and part of the healing process is to get beyond these issues.
What can you say about dad?
You can always say things like “Jay delivered my two kids…”, “He was the best doctor I ever had…” (only if it’s true of course!), or “I loved to hear his health talks – they were so practical!”, or “Jay was so encouraging to me when…” or “Remember that time when…” (recollections of a good memory).
And lastly, this might seem obvious, but don’t speculate on what happened…, “How Jay died…” We don’t know what happened or how he might have died. At this point we do not even know for sure that he is dead. So these imaginings are never good ones to think on.
Thank you for what you have done.
People have been helping in so many ways. And the support from everyone, those at home and those far away, has been amazing indeed and truly appreciated. So, thank you for all your prayers – your encouragement – your friendship. These mean more than ever in the rough times!
Many people have called and offered to help financially. Thank you for your offers, but we are able to cover our expenses within the family. If you wish to contribute in a financial way, Adventist Risk Management is keeping a separate fund for the development of Kyiv Adventist Medical Center. This is the reason that dad went to the Ukraine to begin with. It has been on a bumpy path for the last several years, but has been getting close to opening. If you feel that you would like to help with this project you may make checks payable to:
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
[Mark them as donations to the Kyiv medical center.]
Mail them to:
Att: Bob Kyte
Adventist Risk Management
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring MD 20904