Recently I got to spend time with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. As we sat and chatted, she reminded me that she and her husband had traveled to see my husband and me after our second daughter, Ashley was stillborn (You can read my story about that here.). She said, “I was so nervous about talking to you, but I remember thinking that I should ask you about Ashley.
My heart was pounding, but I asked you to tell me about her, and when I did, you began to cry, saying that no one wanted to talk about her. She was the very subject you desired to discuss, but everyone shied away from asking about her.”
If you know someone who is grieving right now, it’s easy to see that they are sorrowful and because you care, you don’t want to make them cry! You feel sure if you bring up the name of their loved one that passed away, it will cause the grief to spill out in a torrent of tears, so you talk about everything except the very one they’d love to talk about.
Today I’d just like to help you know what to say and how to be a refreshment to someone whose experiencing loss. I’m no grief counselor, but I have experienced deep grief, and can speak from what comforted me.
- Ask about the one who passed away, but not necessarily about details of their death. Ask more about memories they have of them. For example, if a wife lost her husband, you might ask, How did you and Jim meet anyway? I’d love to hear how your relationship got started. Also share a special memory you have of their loved one.
- Use the deceased person’s name. Doing so will acknowledge the fact that they were on this earth, that they lived.
- Share promises of Scripture. Don’t preach at the grieving one (Roman 8:28), but share verses of comfort – II Cor. 5:8 , II Thess: 4:16-18, Ps 34:18, Ps 73:25, 26 If these were in order of importance, I would put this one first. Nothing comforts more than the Word of God. Without His love and His care we would feel very alone.
- Don’t shy away from people who are grieving. Invite them to join you for the holidays. Ask them to sit with you in church, or go out to lunch.
- Sometimes you don’t need to say anything. Just tell them you care. Listen. Give a hug or an arm around the shoulders.
- If someone lost a baby –
You could ask questions about the pregnancy – How far along were you when you realized you were expecting? Was there a food you craved while you were pregnant? What is the reason for the name you gave your baby?
If they were able to hold the baby, ask who did he/she look like? Don’t ask if they’re going to try to have another baby; focus on the one they just lost.
Bring a gift like an ornament that can serve as a reminder that this little one existed, even if for a short while.
Again, I am no expert, but I realize that most of us are well-meaning, but don’t really know how to comfort those who are hurting so deeply. I pray this will help you to be a blessing to someone during a dark time in their life.
I’m so thankful for hope in Christ!