On Christmas night, 2019, our little community experienced a tremendous loss, three teenage girls in a tragic accident. This past month, my life and work has been greatly embedded and influenced by that tragedy, assisting many with the grief process of this loss. Mourn with those who mourn. While this may be a topic that may seem random, and maybe even out of place – it is a topic that happens when we least expect it and when we are least prepared for it. So for today, I want to offer tips for being a friend to someone who is grieving:
Be satisfied with the ministry of presence.
Being present with a hug goes so much farther than any words of wisdom.
Be comfortable with emotions.
Allow crying and expression of grief, to include anger. Many who are grieving tend to apologize for crying and feel guilty for expressing this emotion. Encourage and allow it, providing opportunities for healthy ways of expressing anger if needed.
Be available and practical.
You should not say, “Let me know if you need anything” is really not helpful, though well-intended. Offer to pick up groceries, or the kids from school, to walk the dog.
Be sensitive and prepared to listen frequently.
Don’t ask for details. Let the bereaved share the details as she is ready. If you know details, don’t repeat them to the bereaved unless asked. They don’t want a play by play repeat of how the death of their loved one occurred.
Be empathetic, but don’t patronize.
Even if you have experienced the same type of loss, in the same manner, please don’t say, “I know how you feel.” Because you really don’t. Every loss, experience, relationship, and circumstance, is just as unique as the grief experience itself. To claim total identification with the bereaved is minimizing their grief.
Be willing to admit that you don’t have answers.
When asked “Why?” nobody really knows. Don’t use guesses like “It was God’s will” or “God needed another angel”. This ends up really being cliches that seldom console.
Be ready to talk about the deceased person.
Use the deceased’s name. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Encourage memory sharing.
There is no timetable for grief. We can feel many losses for a lifetime. Stand by your grieving friend for as long as necessary.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn – Romans 12:15, NIV
Life in ministry can be tough sometimes, but if you’ve ever wished for someone to walk with you through it, consider our Admonish Mentor Program. Our trained mentors are here for you, to be a sounding board, an encouragement, and a prayer partner. Check out our Admonish Mentor Program page today.