Grief is a journey. It takes us on a roller coaster of emotions.
Some days you can smile when you think of those you have lost and other days you can’t even get out of bed. Grief hits us like a punch to the gut any time of day and anywhere. How do we come alongside someone who has suffered a loss? What can we do? Often our words can cause pain to a person who is already hurting. Our intentions and hearts may be in the right place. We often ask, “what can I do?” The most important thing to know though is it isn’t our words that they need.
A grieving person isn’t looking to us to have the right thing to say.
Maybe you avoid grieving friends or family because you don’t know what to say. What you can give them is your time. Offer a hug or a prayer. Bring them a meal. Simply say, “I am sorry”, “I am here for you”, “I am praying for you”. Don’t fear their tears. Let them share their memories and favorite stories with you. It’s an important part of grieving. There are many stages of grief. Denial, anger, and depression, just to name a few. The final one is acceptance. Some stages come and go. Someone may go through one and revisit another later on. The first year is the most difficult because your grieving friend is experiencing all the “firsts” without the person or thing in their life they are grieving. First birthday, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, and first anniversary, etc. Sending a card, a text or calling them on those important dates can mean so much.
It reminds the grieving person that they or their loved one hasn’t been forgotten.
The first couple of months the person receives cards, flowers, food, and calls. But after a while that goes away. Then it gets quiet. That’s when they need you the most. Many people who are grieving will tell you the nights are the most difficult. When they are home and the business of the day is done. It can be lonely.
We don’t get “over” the death of a loved one. The world can often hurry us along in our grief. Telling us we should be over it. We should be better. We have to go “through” grief and come out on the other side. We come to a place where we can smile when we think of someone we lost. We can laugh when we share stories. We can find joy in the memories. That comes with time and healing. You can’t escape grief; you can’t run from it. The tears are part of the healing process. God is there in our tears, our anger, our loss. We need to cling to the hope we have in Jesus. “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted”. Matthew 5:4. Grief isn’t exclusive to just the death of someone. People grieve loss for many different things. Divorce, loss of a job, moving away from loved ones, or an illness.
Remember that your grieving friend needs time. Don’t rush them. Be patient, be present, and just love them through it.
Shauntel Raymond is LBF Church’s LIFEcare Coordinator. If you need someone to talk to, our LIFEcare ministry can help. Go to the LIFEcare web page and contact Shauntel there.