I've heard that phrase a lot in the last 2 months, and honestly I don't understand what it means.
I think when you're grieving there are a lot of things you can't do (or don't feel like doing) - disciplining your kids, making dinner, eating dinner, playing with your kids, getting out of bed, cleaning the bathroom floor, watering the flowers, taking your kids to the pool, etc.
And you definitely aren't able to ask for help. I can ask my wonderful husband for help, but as for calling, emailing, stepping out my door and asking for help from someone outside of my household, I just can't do it. I'm a very independent person by nature and I'd rather do it myself than ask for help in just about any situation. So when I'm grieving and someone says, "Let us know if you need anything," just figure you won't hear from me. I'm the kind of person - an introvert to my core - that will need people to push themselves into my life. And I may be annoyed by that at first, but really it's probably what I need.
A few days after we lost the baby a friend called our house around 8am. I was still in bed and my husband was feeding the boys breakfast. We were avoiding the phone (no caller ID, so I avoided every call) and she left us a message: "I'm coming over with bagels and coffee. And don't even try to say 'no' because I'm coming." My husband stuck his head into the bedroom and told me that she was coming over. And I was annoyed. How dare she not even ask if I feel up to visitors? How dare she assume that she is the person that I want to see? How dare she ruin my grief-sleep to stop over to chat about my feelings? How dare she?
And yet, it was ok. She gave me a great big, tight, normally-awkward-but-not-today long hug. And I wept. I needed that even though I didn't know it. We didn't talk about the baby, we didn't talk about my feelings, we didn't talk about my physical health after my dead baby was removed from my body. We just were. We talked about her kids, my boys, how I love iced chai tea lattes from Panera, and a plethora of other non-important things going on in our lives. I needed that gut-wrenching hug and I needed the mundane chit-chat and I didn't even know it.
So, a tip of my own for your grief-stricken friend is to do and not wait to be asked because you probably won't. Asking is a very humbling thing that someone who is grieving doesn't have the ability to do. I did only to my mom and my mother-in-law. And even when they were around I tried to hold it together. I didn't want them to know that I was dying inside or that I just wanted to stay in bed all day. And it's sad for me to admit that. And I still don't want people to really know that I'm still grieving and I'm still sad and I'm still mad and I still don't have the ability to ask for help.
(If you want to read more of my thoughts on Molly's series, click here.)