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  • Lori

What Can I Do?

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

The longer we live the more likely it is we will have a friend or family member who is grieving a great loss.

What can you do to comfort your grieving friend? Sometimes that’s tricky to figure out. We each process grief in our own way, and what blesses one person may irritate another. (Some people consider flowers a waste, but I love them!). So how do you decide what to do and say? You can, of course, just ask the person what they would like, but that doesn’t always work, as it puts pressure on the grieving one and it’s a bit awkward to reply, “well, um…I like flowers…”

It helps to actually think about the person’s personality, or ask someone close to them what they might want or need. And if you are a Christian, ask God for ideas! I know He enjoys helping His own.

For starters, these are a few things that blessed me in the months following Joe’s passing:

Offers to do specific errands (“I’m heading to the grocery store today, can I pick up anything for you?”). I really didn’t want to deal with the tedium of life, so this was much appreciated.

My Sunday School class hired a woman to clean my house. Twice!

A card with a personal note—I read those over and over and they reassured me that other people missed Joe, too, or wished they’d known him, or at least were hurting for me. I have saved them all.

I loved receiving flowers and gift cards.

Hot, home-cooked meals delivered. I really didn’t have the energy or the motivation to plan, shop and cook. My church organized a Meal Train; my neighbors and other local friends took it upon themselves to serve us in this way, too.

Phone texts. I hate talking on the phone, but a text from a friend was often just the encouragement I needed. Texts reminded me that I was not alone, especially as time went on and the meals and cards stopped coming.

Offers to get together for coffee or lunch, but with no pressure to do so. (“When you’re ready, I’m here”).

My friend Jan and I went for a walk in the park; it was wonderful to be in the midst of quiet nature while we talked.

These days—a year and a half since we lost him—it means so much to me to know people remember Joe and to hear them talk about him. I know the world keeps turning and life has moved on for everyone else, but my family and I will always have this sadness with us, wherever we go and whatever we do. To know Joe is not forgotten by those who knew him is probably the best gift of all.

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The sadness will mellow over time, my dear sister. The loss of Joe is profound and life changing. But 1 Cor. 13 says it best — only the love remains. I believe this applies to grief as well.

As Americans, we don’t do grief well. We try to shortchange it. We pretend that the funeral marks the end of the event and we leave those who grieve with a newfound aloneness.

But grief is a journey that takes time. A well embraced grief will take 7 to 8 years — but if given the proper respect it takes us to new levels in our faith, compassion, and even joy.

I promise you that you will come to a place where…

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