Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When a Friend Suffers

Show up and shut up!
(Rick Warren’s advice when he returned to the pulpit four months after his son committed suicide)

Many people are afraid to approach someone that has experienced a traumatic event - they don’t know what to say or do. The reality is that they don’t really need to say anything but “I love you and am so sorry for your loss” - then stop talking! 

Be willing to sit by a friend, weep with them, or be silent with them. Job’s friends were great until they started talking! They sat with him for seven days in silence.

DON'T
  • Don’t try to explain what happened. No explanation will make a person feel better about their loss.
  • Don’t tell them that they must be a really strong person for God to allow this in their life. We all have pain, but none of us want it .... for any reason. 
  •  Don’t offer platitudes or clich├ęs. They are not comforting.
  • Don’t tell them that you know how you feel. You don’t know. No one knows.
    After I lost my mother, I had several other women come up to me and tell me how sorry they were. That was great! But then some would say, "I lost my mother 20 years ago (or fill in the number) and I still miss her everyday." Not helpful. The idea that I would still be in that kind of pain 20 years from now was not encouraging to me. I am sure that is not what they meant, but that's what I felt.
  • Don’t ask them to call you if they need something; now the burden is on them. 
  • Don’t ask them what they need; they usually don’t know. 
  • Don’t forget them. They will need you more in the sixth week after everyone is gone, than in the first week when everyone is around. 
DO
  • Offer your assistance in whatever you can - staying overnight with them, bring them food, answer the phone or make calls for them, clean up, do the laundry.
  • Send them a note, call them, take them out - not just when the loss occurs but in the weeks and months that follow.
  • Be God's arms and give them a hug!
  • Give them time. Everyone grieves in a different way and for a different length of time. 
  • Pray without ceasing! Only God can truly comfort a broken heart.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, 
so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4