You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. —Psalm 88:8-9
Last week I shared three myths that may cause us to stumble as we try to process grief. Today I have two more that you may have either said yourself (I have), or others have said to you. See if these connect:
Your loss reminds me of when my dog died. Not only is this hijacking the conversation—taking the attention off the griever and putting it on the helper—but a grasping-at-straws attempt to relate. Such a comment minimizes the griever’s pain by relating his or her loss to someone or something else. Instead, ask questions, offer words of comfort, or listen and hug.
Well, they’re in a better (or worse) place. Our friends may intellectualize loss or become theologians, and comments of this nature can be offensive and compound someone’s grief. Not only are these comments not helpful, but they are often not appropriate for the needs of the griever.
Even Job allowed God space to take care of some of his most difficult matters. The issue here is that your friend lost a loved one and the relationship that they had for many years. The real work of grief is the mending and honoring of a lost relationship.
I have not found it helpful to rehash “what I could have done” or the “if onlys” of life. Spend your energies on grieving the loss in the relationship and not judging a lost loved one’s salvation. Judging is God’s job.
Listening is essential to help the griever. Listening with a humble heart and a patient spirit is best when times get difficult and you want to “fix” your friend. Refuse the temptation to say something just to fill space. Learn to be OK with some silence. Listen and love like Jesus.
The church setting is the PERFECT place for the griever. Learn how to set up a Grief Journey weekend visit with Tim. It includes a public Grief Journey workshop (great visitor bringer) and training time for group leaders. CLICK HERE
Dr. Timothy Sumerlin
Disciples In Motion