I’m not particularly qualified by profession or education to offer counseling or therapy, wisdom or advice. I don’t have a doctorate or a master’s degree, I’m not a theologian or philosopher, and I can’t talk about the economy or politics or the universe. I will say, though, it is widely known in my small circle that I make a most perfect s’more in the microwave, I am super good at tucking sleepy children into their blankets, I know how to pack a fun and diverse picnic basket, and I can text with the thumb dexterity of a 14-year-old girl. There are some things I’m good at, and they say you learn by doing. Four years ago, my husband died in my arms on our bedroom floor after twelve hours of a misdiagnosed illness that doctors thought was the flu. If it’s true that you learn by doing and that life’s circumstances make you an expert in your own trade, then I am by default highly qualified to talk about how to mend a broken heart and shattered life.
In my first book, And Life Comes Back, I wrote, “I belong to a third culture now. I am neither a whole, healed woman, nor will I wear black and grieve forever. I belong in this nebulous in-between place. We are a growing demographic, the brokenhearted us. You might belong on this team roster, or perhaps you are walking alongside someone who is. If you are wondering how to help someone in this place, let me tell you what I’ve learned.” Here is my short list of what is helpful—and what is not.