How To Help the Grieving
Someone you love has just suffered an incredible loss, and their sorrow may have made you feel useless and perhaps helpless. You have put your life on hold to insure your loved one has the support and comfort they need at this time but when you are in their presence, and although the desires for your own well being no longer exist somehow it just doesn’t seem like enough. You are focused only on protecting this once self-reliant individual that suddenly is dependent and oh so vulnerable. However helplessness can effect your emotions and soon all you want is the pain to go away. Not just their pain but the distress you experience when your abilities to eliminate their discomfort seems futile. When they cry you reassure them that it is going to be okay, but they don’t seem to believe you. The harder you try the less you seem to accomplish.
Finally you find yourself telling your grieving friends and or family members that they must be strong and they need to start getting out or they need to start going on with their lives. You encourage them to give clothes away and clean out drawers.
You may be reacting to your own inability to eliminate the distress. Your love and compassion has made you search for ways to expedite the healing process. Please pay attention to the reasons for your urging. Your family member needs you, they need your presence, and they need to know you are in the other room when they retreat to the privacy of their bedroom (and they will retreat often). Don’t let this need for periodic solitude deceive you into believing your friend needs to be alone. Stay and be available. There is no need to have the perfect words to say nor do you need to give them some type of nuggets of wisdom that can bring them “out”, just be there. Follow their lead, smile often and after the funeral, when everyone has left and returned to there own corners of the Nation, you stay.
Visit often and make the calls consistent. If your schedule allows you to stop by regularly, please do so. If it is on the way to work, three times a week, then try to maintain that standard. If you can’t get to see them at the normal time, call and inform them of your change. Your loved one will heal faster when their life tends to have structure.
Your frequency at their home will also allow you to see when they start moving into an unnatural area of grief. If their mood is growing darker and they remain in an unstable state to long you will be close enough to recognize this variation in their behavior. How long is to long? You will be able to discern this fact from prayer and close attention to their conversations or lack there of.
A periodic set back can happen and is normal, but there should be an adjustment moving your friend in the direction of hope within a few months. You will be able to encourage them to attend church services and if you become concerned that they are at a dangerous level of depression you can contact their pastor or counselor.
Your family member or friend will begin to recover and as this happens you are still needed. Perhaps you will not visit as often but there are still some special things you can do to make a difference. Send them greeting cards. Valentines Day can be lonely but I remember receiving a card every year from a friend that attended our church and it was so welcomed. My father also sent me flowers and chocolates. My mother purchased me presents on what would have been my wedding anniversary and friends asked me out for lunch on the anniversary of my late spouse’s death. These acts of kindness made it possible to endure those days.
Remember your support is vital to the recovery of your loved ones. Please allow them to grieve, let them speak without interruptions and do not force them to rush and return to what you conceive as normal. Normal is relevant to each situation and although they are broken, God will restore them and if you are willing, he will use you to make that happen.
It is the holiday season and many are coming and going. If you are helping a friend or relative to “get through” this time please remember a gift is wonderful and will be very appreciated especially if it is received by mail but the most valuable gift during this period of celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ is you and your time.
Having had her own personal brush with death while mourning the
loss of her husband, Cherie made the commitment to live. Her
search for hope and permanent relief from the pain and confusion
led her to the realization that not only would she live, but she would
The Widow’s Might is the chronicle of her spiritual endurance
during her recovery from the loss of her husbands. This survivors’
guide was born out of her inability to find answers anywhere else
but in the Bible and the desire to make available to others a
practical approach to overcoming and understanding the grief of
those who suffer a loss.