Dealing with loss is never an easy thing. Grief is so hard. Yet, it’s something all of us will face at some point in our lives. Death is painful, heart wrenching, and life shattering. It’s hard to imagine how you can ever fill the hole that was left. It’s hard learning to find a new normal.
Many of you know that I lost my mom to kidney cancer when I was 15. For me, that hole has never been filled. And I think that’s the case for most people who have experienced loss.
But there were many people God used in my life to love me and care for me in the midst of my grief.
As followers of Jesus, we can be tangible expressions of who God is and how he loves them. Here are 3 ways we can come alongside people who are hurting.
1. During times of grief, Be present.
I became an emotional wreck when my mom died. I was always angry and easily annoyed. But even in the worst of moods, my aunt was always present. She never gave me an excuse for being angry and bitter. But she never left. I never became too difficult for her or too much to bear.
I was not an easy person to love at this moment in my life. But you would have never guessed it by how she loved me. I couldn’t get rid of her no matter how hard I tried.
She was relentless in her determination to just be present for me. Sometimes that meant advice, a hug, or even just sitting next to me in silence. Looking back, that was one of the things that got me through. Her willingness to love me even when it hurt. Even when I didn’t know what I wanted.
What a beautiful picture of how Jesus loves us. In spite of all our ugly and damage, He is still there with us. And that’s the same love we are called to have for other people. The love with which He loved us we are to pour out to others.
Being present when it’s hard and it hurts is one of the greatest actions of love. It is one of the greatest ways to comfort someone in the midst of their crisis.
2. During times of grief, Be practical.
Our church family was absolutely wonderful and made me fall in love with Christ even more. When my mom was really sick and visitors became too overwhelming, our church found new ways to be there for her.
I remember some of the members from our church playing worship songs outside of our house for her to hear. They never asked to come in, knowing it was too much for my mom at that point. She absolutely loved hearing them lead her in worship. It was beautiful.
Every day, we had different families delivering lunch and dinner to our house. They didn’t insist on staying and visiting, they just dropped off the food on our doorstep and would check in to see if we were low on food.
I can tell you story after story of our church family helping care for our practical needs. They even went so far as to pay for our electric bill in the heat of summer, so my mom could be as comfortable as possible.
No matter how big or small, the practical things matter in times of grief. When the people closest to us suffer and experience crisis, we can be helpful. There are practical ways we can be there for them. Spend time think through what those might be.
It doesn’t always have to be a financial cost to you–even just lending your time to watch kids, help do laundry, or run errands can make all the difference in the world. These very tangible forms of love make a world of a difference.
3. During times of Grief, Be a friend.
I had many women who tried to comfort me by giving advice and trying to empathize by sharing their own stories of loss. And there may be moments when that’s needed. But it is less than you think.
It grew frustrating to hear other people’s stories of how they lost their mom when they were 35 or when they were 7. It made me feel as if what I was struggling with was ordinary and mundane. Even people sharing advice on how to grieve in a healthy way didn’t help.
What I really needed was not a counselor or doctor, I just needed a friend. Someone I could be shopping at the mall with one moment and in tears with the next. And she would understand.
I was far more comfort and peace with someone who was more interested in being my friend than they were being my counselor. God uses those friendships to bring healing and joy. Just having a person to have fun with and remind me that life didn’t need to stop when my mom died allowed me to deal with what was going on.
When someone you love is experiencing a life altering tragedy and the grief that comes along with it, they’re probably in need of a friend more than a counselor of doctor. A true friend will know you. Even if they don’t have the right thing to say, they can be a source of comfort.
Tragedy in life is inevitable. But we can endure it together.
We will all experience moments of crisis or tragedy. But God can use others to bring you through it. We can be the tangible representation of Jesus’ love even in the most difficult of times.