Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Help Those Who are Grieving

What can you say to a person who is grieving? What can you do for them? What should you not say?

You can say, I am here if you need me. Call me at any time and I will come over. I may not have any answers, but I am willing to sit with you, listen, and help you sort your thoughts and find answers. 

You can say, can I come over for a cup of coffee?

You can help by offering to do specific tasks like bringing meals, cleaning up around the house, and going on errands. People who are grieving may have no interest in eating or being out in public to shop for groceries because they’re afraid of breaking down and crying.
You should not say that you understand what they are feeling, or that you know what they need, especially if you haven’t grieved and you haven’t listened to them share their thoughts and feelings. While there are commonalities in grieving, everyone’s grief is unique.

If the person who died had been ill for a long time, you should not tell the survivors that they should be happy because the person’s suffering is over, or that he or she is now in heaven. This may be true, but it doesn't lessen the loss they feel. An enormous hole now exists in their lives
Grief is about missing someone who is no longer here. That's not going to change.

You should not say that if their faith were strong enough, they would not feel any sorrow. If you are inclined to say things like this, take a moment and read the Psalms. Notice how emotional those great writers of faith were, how many doubts they had, how great was their despair and anger, how they ranted and yelled at God, and how they had God’s blessing to do so. 

Faith without doubt is a shell.

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