Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fixing is not equal to fixins'....

which does not mean the same as "I am fixing to....," a Southern colloquialism for "what is about to happen". Fixins' is what Mimi puts on the side buffet to go with the fried chicken. But fixing is what some people think they must do for the grieving person.

I have been a grieving person. I am a grieving person. In some way I will always be a grieving person. Life presupposes loss. Loss presupposes grief. Grief is a process. Yada yada yada.

When you need to see something happen, make something happen, or are about to do that which will happen, you are fixing to. A Southern infinitive. This can also apply to inanimate objects as in, "The bell is fixing to ring." A sentence which drew great attention to my Southern heritage while at college with a bunch of Northerners.

When you are hungry and a sandwich will not satisfy, then find the pickles, chips, carrots and fruit for your fixins'. I suppose the intent to this usage is that the sandwich is not whole without the additions. By adding the fixins', you have made the meal whole.

But for the grieving person, there is no fixing to be over the loss. There are no fixins' that satisfy the hunger and thirst of grief. There is simply no fixing at all. In fact, if you are bold enough, ask someone whose husband or child has died, "What would fix things for you?" See if they do not tell you that the only thing that would "fix" things would be for God to return that person to them alive and healed. And even God does not fix it for them that way, so why would you attempt to fix them with a lesser solution?

Truth be told, and it is an uncomfortable truth, grieving people make us uncomfortable. We are so very sorry for their loss. We are so very sad for their sorrow. We are so very ready to get on with our lives even though their lives will never be the same again. Because grieving people are messy in their grief, it makes the rest of us intensely uncomfortable. We seek a solution for our discomfort in fixing their "issue".

Do the grieving people a favor, quit trying to fix things for them. Quit trying to fix them. Quit trying to fix your discomfort by unhelpful at best and harmful at worst solutions. If you cannot handle the messiness of their grief, trust me, it would be better for all concerned for you to give a hug, say nothing, and move on.

If you insist that you want to stay and walk alongside of them, then open your eyes to see their needs, open your ears to hear their needs, and open your heart to do what they ask of you and not what you think they need. The result will actually be one of fixing your understanding of grief and grieving people. It is an understanding everyone needs because it is not an "if" proposition for when you will grieve but a "when" truth.


  1. We Northerners prefer the term "Yankee".

  2. I wrote a lengthy comment here on this post yesterday and when I hit the publish button it took me to an error page---I pushed the back arrow but my comment was gone! Let me just say thank you for the way you put grief into words that resonate in my heart! You should write a book!