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How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving

April 3, 2017

In the book  “One Thousand Gifts”, Ann Voskamp asks these questions when she has experienced a significant loss in her life: “Does God really love me?  If He truly, deeply loves me, why does He withhold that which I believe will fully nourish me?  Why do I live in this sense of rejection, of less than, […]

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In the book  “One Thousand Gifts”, Ann Voskamp asks these questions when she has experienced a significant loss in her life:
Does God really love me?  If He truly, deeply loves me, why does He withhold that which I believe will fully nourish me?  Why do I live in this sense of rejection, of less than, of pain?  Does He not want me to be happy?”  

Maybe you know people who are feeling like that.  Maybe you are people who are feeling like that. Most of us have likely experienced loss, sadness, difficult seasons, and times of prolonged uncertainty.   Life is full of ups and downs.   When we find ourselves in a dark season, be it the death of a loved one, divorce or a breakup, chronic illness (physical or mental), or anything else that shakes us to the core, it is often the love and support of family and friends that brings us the first glimmer of hope.  Yet when we see our loved ones experiencing hardship, we can feel awkward, like we don’t know what to say or do to help. Today, I want to share some tangible ways to answer the question of how to help someone who is grieving.  
Some helpful things to say:  “I am here for you.”  “I’m praying for you.”  “If you ever want to talk, or if you just want me to listen, I would love to.”  “I can only imagine how tough this must be, and I’m not exactly sure how to help, but I hope you know if you need anything, I’m happy to do whatever I can for you.”  “Here’s a gift card for ______________ (groceries, a spa day, dinner out, a mani/pedi, a cleaning service, anything else you know they would love).”  “I just called to say hi and see if you wanted to hang out anytime soon.”

Some not so helpful things to say:  I know what you’re going through.”  “Let me tell you about when I went through something similar.”  “Are you feeling better yet?”  “Don’t you think you would feel better if you __________ (got out of the house more, didn’t sleep as much, got more sleep, saw a therapist, took a vacation, etc.)?” 

Some helpful things to do:  Babysit their kids.  Cook them a meal…maybe a few actually!  Send flowers or a card…maybe both actually!  Call or text them.  Have fun together…maybe even laugh a little!  Continue doing the things you have always done together. Follow their lead…if they want to talk about it with you, they will…if they don’t, they probably won’t.  Respect their wishes. Respect their boundaries.  Assume nothing.  Be available.  Be humble.  Talk less, listen more.  Remember, they will ask for your advice if they really want it.  

Every person is different, as is every situation, and relationship.  I don’t want to overgeneralize too much, but I’m fairly confident the above suggestions will be helpful, by and large.  Do you have anything you would add or subtract from the list of how to help someone who is grieving? What was something you really appreciated someone doing for you when you were grieving?

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  1. Shelrod22 says:

    I always try to remember to say this quote, (which I read on your blog!)"If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I will sit with you in the dark."

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