How to Comfort the Grieving
My world slowly began to unravel after hearing the doctor ask, "Have you ever been exposed to diethystilbestrol (DES)?" I was lying on the examining table undergoing infertility testing. The results dashed all my hopes for carrying a child. The risk of internal deformities was too great. It also started a journey of medical tests and interventions as abnormal cell changes were found. I underwent a complete hysterectomy while still in my twenties.
This journey of grief sent me into messy places and words spoken out of season were like sandpaper to my soul. This new, raw reality of life turned me inside out and many friends were at a loss how to respond. I struggled knowing how to respond as it affected me physically, emotionally, physiologically, spiritually and psychologically. Many days I was not easy to be around and I could not tell friends how to help me as I journeyed through the next days, months and years.
How do you help someone whose world has completely changed? How can you walk with someone through short term and long term grief? Through my own cries of pain let me share with you what hurt, what helped and what I realize I needed. Remember, truth out of season is a painful thing. A person in grief, pain or suffering is not in a place where hearing these words are helpful.
- When I was told, "If you had enough faith, you would be healed."
- To be told, "All things work together for good…" or "God is in control and He doesn't make mistakes."
- When someone asked, "What do you need?" or "Call me if you need anything."
- To hear words like, "You can always adopt."
- When people told me how "so and so" coped with their grief.
- To hear platitudes, no matter how well-intentioned.
- When people said, "I know what you're going through."
- When someone said, "Tell me what I can do for you" and waited for an answer.
- To have a friend come and vacuum the house or drop off a meal.
- When someone mowed the grass while I was away at medical appointments.
- To hear laughter, even in the midst of tears.
- When I heard, "I'm so sorry" or "I love you."
- To actually hear and receive tender prayers (even over the phone or by email).
- When cards continued to come weeks and months after surgery or loss.
- To know others understand my absence from baby showers even while I rejoiced with them.
- When people just listened or gave a simple hug.
- To brighten my soul to receive flowers and thoughtful gifts.
- When friends understood that some days I was more "touchy" than others.
I realize now
- How tough it is to reach out for help.
- Caring for others is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
- Suffering can isolate the sufferer especially when the journey of grief is long.
- How sharing struggles bonds people together.
- Stages of grief cannot be rushed through or put on a time table.
- Echoes of pain may still remain for weeks, months or years.
- The importance of being there for someone when the crowd may have moved on.
"God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4).
- God does bring beauty from ashes in His time and in His season.
- Out of this season of pain and grief, there has been personal and spiritual growth.
- This loss has taught me how to listen and respond from those who gave these same gifts to me.
WMN Note: For additional resources, go to griefshare.org. You can receive daily emails to help with your grief journey, find a local support group meeting in your area or do a personal six week study. Through a Season of Grief by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard is the compilation of 365 emails in book form that you can use or share. This site also shows how you or your church can start a support group.
When have you experienced grief and what helped you?
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Maria Eglisson has a passion to share the hope she has in Christ to women. She serves at First Baptist Church in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada where she encourages women to discover, develop and use the gifts that God has given them by offering workshops & training seminars. You can visit her at www.thewoman2woman.com
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