Updated: Mar 9
If someone you know has lost a loved one to death, divorce, or separation my prayer is that this topic will help you feel comforted, encouraged, and better prepared to comfort others in this inevitable situation.
Often, it's uncomfortable to not know what to say or do for those who are grieving, so we stay away. PLEASE, don’t avoid the person or situation. They need you more than you could know.
Here are three things to comfort and encourage someone who is grieving a loss:
#1 Be present.
This is more than just sitting next to a person - it's being with a them by making eye contact, touching or hugging if they are all right with it (always ask first!), and keep bringing your thoughts back to the present moment. Not thinking about your own similar circumstances, or planning what is for dinner later, or wondering if you're saying the right things, or hoping this would be over soon. But on this person. In this moment. Right. Now.
#2 Ask questions.
Most people who are grieving want a chance to express their feelings. You don’t have to try and “fix” it. They’re not broken. They just want and need someone to listen and care and be present. You can ask, in a caring, non-judgmental way, “What happened?” Or, depending on the situation, you may need to say, “I heard you lost your ______. Would you be willing to share with me what happened?” After asking, you simply need to be quiet and listen. This is not about you, so refrain from sharing a similar story from your own life, and just HEAR what they are saying and feeling in this moment.
Remember, you are asking to allow the one who is grieving to tell their story to express emotions and not to give you information. If they ask you if you’ve ever been through something like this, answer honestly, but then turn it back to them. You may say something like: “Yes, and I remember what it was like for me, but please tell me about how you are dealing with this.” If you have never dealt with a similar situation, you might say, “No, I cannot imagine what you are going through and I hope you will share that with me.”
#3 Offer to handle specific tasks.
One of the most common things a someone who is grieving hears from others is to “Let me know if you need anything.” In all likelihood, they will NOT let you know. When people are grieving, they often don’t know what they need. Having a lack of focus or concentration and being pulled in several directions at once is very common and can leave them lost when it comes to making decisions. Offering to perform a specific task, such as bringing over dinner, doing their laundry, shoveling their sidewalk, mowing their grass, cleaning their home, babysitting, or picking up someone at the airport is far better that asking them to make a decision about how you can help. Even if they decline your offer, they know that you are willing to help out in a tangible way. It is also very possible that they may ask you to do something other than what you suggested because they really do know that you are there for them.
Remember, like everything else, it starts with YOU being present and aware. There is nothing you can say or do or buy that could equally exchange for you JUST...BEING...PRESENT in body, mind, and spirit. Refrain from telling those who are suffering - especially if it is YOU! - how you should or shouldn’t feel. Just FEEL it. Feelings can be overwhelming and scary and uncomfortable and not “normal” for you or the person experiencing it. But recognizing and experiencing them is the only healthy way to grieve. My goodness, Moms - even Jesus wept when Lazarus died! If you push them down or away, I promise you they will absolutely come out in other ways!
Connect Point Moms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them! For quick, helpful videos on topics like this one, find "Kate Connects" on YouTube!
For a FREE Parenting 101 Class session, check out: www.ConnectPointMoms.com/gift