Yesterday, a dear friend of mine lost her husband in the line of duty.
How do you walk alongside someone at a time like this?
There are no easy answers, no ABC formula. It’s messy, painful. It is raw, excruciating grief. Don’t pretend to know what the person feels—that only diminishes their grief.
- Pray. I’m not giving the easy, pat answer. Prayer is the one thing that will reach across time and space. The Father brings peace and comfort when you cannot. The Spirit prays for us and over us when we are unable to process information.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26 NIV
- Listen. The grieving person needs someone to listen to them. You can’t fix what has happened. Yet, often you and I try to make things better. How can you do that when a death has occurred? Active listening shows more love and care for the person than your words. Job’s friends were the best comforters when they were silent (Job 2:13). Be comfortable being uncomfortable with her grief.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. Psalm 31:9
- Be understanding. Give the grieving person the gift of time—time to grieve at their own pace, time spent caring for them in little ways, time with them, time to be alone as needed. Put a note on your calendar to check on them in a month or two or six down the road. Plan to take your friend out for coffee or dinner, something to let her know you care. Accept that her grief will linger a lot longer than you realize. Understand that she won’t get over her grief, but will learn to live with it.
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you. Isaiah 66: 13
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
My heart bleeds and cries out to the Father on my friend’s behalf. I don’t understand why; I never will. I can only support my friend the best I am able.
Hopefully, in the coming days, weeks, months, and years I will get better at being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Through walking this path with her, I will learn more about healthy grieving. I will learn better how to be Jesus with skin on for a fellow human being.
Jesus, bring your peace and comfort.
Live your legacy today,