“To everything there is a season… a time to be born, and a time to die” Ecclesiastes 3:2. After a long, painful illness, Kay, a deeply loved mother, died. I was only a phone call away. A weary husband beckoned me to come and be with his grieving wife. Heartache choked his words.
When I arrived, I bore witness to grief. The burden of loss rested heavily upon my friend. Sorrow made her shoulders sink. The depth of Lynn’s pain revealed how deeply she loved her mother.
“What should I say?” “What should I do?” I wanted to heal Lynn’s heartache. I hugged her tight; I cried with her; I listened to her; I prayed with her. But I couldn’t heal her.
I’m learning that mourning/grieving is a necessary part of dealing with loss. Loss of a child; loss of a spouse or a parent; loss of a pet; loss of a dream. What loss is familiar to your friend or loved one?
Grieving is not a weakness in faith. “Godly men buried Stephen,” after he was stoned, and “mourned deeply for him.” (Acts 8:2) Actually, God commands us to show grief: “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
Since we can’t relieve the pain of loved ones, how can we mourn with them? Hospice, a well known and respected “concept of care” offers these suggestions:
· Make contact. Make a phone call, send a card, attend the funeral, bake and deliver cookies. Don’t let discomfort, fear, or uncertainty stand in the way of making contact and being a friend.
· Provide practical help. It’s usually not enough to say, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” Decide on a task you can help with and make the offer.
· Be available and accepting. Respect the words and feelings expressed, avoid being judgmental or taking their feelings personally, avoid telling them how they should feel or what they should do.
· Be a good listener. Many in grief need to talk about their loss; the person, related events, and their reactions. Allow grievers to tell their stories and express their feelings.
· Exercise patience. Give bereaved people “permission” to grieve for as long or short a time as needed. Make it clear that there is no sense of “urgency” when you visit or talk. Remember, there are no shortcuts.
· Encourage self-care. Encourage bereaved people to attend to physical needs, postpone major decisions, allow themselves to grieve and to recover. At the same time, they may need your support in getting back into activities and making decisions.
· Model good self-care. It’s important for you to maintain a realistic and positive perspective, to maintain your own life and responsibilities, and to seek help when you feel overwhelmed or don’t know how to handle a situation. (http://www.hospicefoundation.org/grief )
No matter how long the recovery process, we can be certain that God, the Source of all comfort, steps in. He remains and renews hope. He calms the grieving soul. (Psalm 94:19) Perhaps He will choose to do so through you and me.