Let’s chat real quick about grief. I’ve noticed over the past several months how poorly equipped we can sometimes be in dealing with this. And I don’t know that it’s really anyone’s fault. Grief and death are tricky, and not everyone handles them in the same way. So what do we do when someone we know loses a loved one? How do we respond? How do we support our bereaved friends and family?
We can listen.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But here’s the catch – try to just listen. As Christians, it can be so easy to want to slap a bandaid on with our words. We mean well, but what we don’t always realize is that these statements can sometimes come from a place of our own discomfort. Just listening to someone and sitting with them in their grief can be awkward, and we don’t always know the right words to say. But friend, want to know the magic secret here? We don’t have to have words to say in these moments. Your grieving friend will so appreciate you quietly listening to them as they share how much they miss their loved one.
We can remind them of truth.
“But Sabrina, you just told me to listen?” Yeah, I know. I also told you grief was tricky, remember? While your friend desperately needs you to listen as they process their grief, they also need to be gently reminded of truth. Whether they’re angry, sad, anxious, or just a little numb, remind them that these feelings are normal. Grief can make you feel a little crazy, and it helps to have a friend validate your feelings and remind you that you’re not.
Along with feeling a little bit crazy, grief can also bring up feelings of guilt. In my personal experience with grief, my feelings of guilt have been where I’ve needed the most truth spoken into my life. My husband actually handled this really well. Each time I found myself broken over thoughts of “I could have given Mom one of my lungs. We had the same blood type. We were the same height. I probably would have been a match.” He lovingly reminded me that even if I had been the perfect match, Mom never would have agreed to it. And her doctors wouldn’t have either. This truth is just what my brain needed in that moment – to be reminded of the irrationality of it all, while still acknowledging that the pain is real.
Most importantly, you can remind your friend of truth found in Scripture. Please hear me out for a second- this is not the time to share your “everything happens for a reason” statements. They just don’t hold water here. (Sickness and death happen because we live in a broken world. Amen. The end.) However, this IS the time to share scripture like Psalm 34:18, which says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Another that I’ve continually reminded myself is John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.” Your grieving friend needs to hear Scripture that comforts and gives hope.
We can be a friend.
This one sounds obvious, but it’s equally as important to note here. We have to be careful to not only see our friend for their grief. Sure, they want you to ask how they’ve been doing since so-and-so passed away, but they don’t want every conversation to find itself there. Go have lunch with them. Talk to them about a book you just read and are LOVING. Take them to get a pedicure. Just be their friend and love them like you’ve always done, but maybe with just a little extra grace, okay?
Church, I know that death makes us uncomfortable. And I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert in the matter. But I really think these three actions – listening, reminding of truth, and being a friend – are at least really great steps in the right direction. Let’s work on this together, shall we?