Loss is a part of living; but grieving is a lost art. We do not want to face the pain, so we stuff it inside, wallow in self-pity and depression, and ignore the one safety valve God gave us to overcome the deep abiding sadness we carry around with us every hour of every day.
If we would allow Him to, our God of all comfort would fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in Him. He enables us to overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 15:13).
People usually ignore us when we are grieving, because they do not know what to say. They may want to speak to us but cannot decide how to word their feelings. This is common and we do not need to feel insecure.
We can simply say, "I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care about you and that I am here for you in any way that I can be of help."
We tend to use phrases like: passed on, passed away, graduated to heaven, went to be with the Lord, etc. Using the word "died" will allow the grieving person to realize that it is okay to refer to their loved one in that same way.
We can express our concern by sharing our sorrow that they are experiencing this loss. "I am so sorry for your loss. I really care about you. How may I help you?"
A simple, "What do you need from me right now?" or "What can I do for you?" are appropriate ways to offer help, because they show you support them during this time of grief.
Do not tell the grieving person that their loved one is in a better place, or that they will get over their grief in time, or that this loss was part of God's plan, or that you know how they feel. Instead, ask them, "How are you feeling right now?"
You do not need to remind them of all they still have to be thankful for or that they can find comfort in the fact that their loved one really cared about them.
Do not tell them what they should feel or do. Let God direct their steps in His timing and way. If they ask you, then start your comment with, "Have you ever considered …"getting a part-time job", "volunteering at a shelter", "helping us with our children's ministry" (in the office, on workdays around the building).
The worst thing you can say is, "It is time to get on with your life." You could say, "God still has plans for your life and He will show them to you as you are ready."
Everyone has a different way to grieve and different time frames in which to do this. Some take longer than others. Some never get over the intense feelings of grief and it shapes their future life.
Many friends forget about the grieving person once the funeral is over. That is when the person needs us the most. Take them shopping, to get their hair done, or for a quiet walk in the park on a pleasant sunny day.
Take them a hot meal, but do not stay to watch them eat it. Offer to buy them some groceries or to do their dishes or wash a load of laundry. These basic needs often get neglected when we are grieving.
Send cheerful cards, invite them to a movie or over to your house to join mutual friends for dinner. Do not force them to be outgoing or cheerful. Just allow them to silently enjoy your company.
Honor their requests, don't push your ideas on them, but ask them, "What would you like to do this week?" Do this regularly for the first year after their loss. Be patient and don't push them. Love them with the love of the Lord.
Father God, knowing what to say to a grieving person is so nerve wracking and our ineptitude is paralyzing. Teach us how to comfort. Give us Your Holy Spirit's wisdom for how to minister to each new grieving person. Put Your ideas in our mind, inspire our creativity with Your ideas on how to be a special blessing to this grieving friend, relative or church member.
We also ask that You comfort us in our grief. Help us not to wallow in self-pity but to rise and shine with each new day and to seek Your will in each new moment. Help us to realize that You have plans for us that do not include our loved one; and that we still have purpose and meaning for our life in You.
Thought for the Day:
Give a bereaving person the gift of your time and attention.