Ministering to People in Grief

Ministering to People in Grief

Often times we will interact with people hurting with grief.  Know that grief does not only come from loss of loved ones through death, it can also come from the loss of a relationship, marriage, job, pet, etc. 

During this last year I had six loved ones pass on to be with the Lord. While that was all happening, a lot of very well-intentioned people said a lot of well-intentioned things to me. I know they were trying to comfort me because at one time or another I had said these very same things to people when I thought they needed comfort. But I also had people say things that I found very comforting. Let me tell you what those things were so you can use them yourself.

1.  “I’m so sorry for your loss – I can’t begin to know how you feel.” It was so nice to have someone just say they felt sorry for me. Plus, I liked it when they said they didn’t know how I felt. So many times people say they know how I feel and the first thing I think is, “really?” I also had someone say that they were sad when they experienced “something similar.” That was okay, too, because it recognized those subtle differences that made our losses different. 

2.  “I know you’re really going to miss them.” That’s a fact for sure, and I can’t imagine a time when saying this won’t be true. Let’s put it this way – if you say this and it’s not true, get ready for a pretty interesting story. Most of us miss people when they’re gone. This is a lot better than saying something like, “they lived a good, long life.” Although that might have been true for the passing of my 94-year-old grandfather or my 84-year-old father in law, I would rather have had them around for a few more years. 

3.  “How are you doing – what can I do for you?”  This is a very practical question that told me that they were willing to chip in when things were rough.  Believe me, that’s helpful and comforting. A lot of times when people die, you just aren’t sure what to do, and having someone offer up a little help can really calm you down. This is a lot better than saying something like, “Well, they’re no longer suffering.”  While this might be true, my first reaction to this is to think about them suffering. 

4. “Can I pray for you?” Man, can you ever! I’m always looking for people to pray for me, with me, around me. Even if we didn’t do it right then, together, I found a lot of comfort in knowing that someone was going to speak to God about me and my loved one. Christians tend to fall back on certain “company line” statements about death, such as “They’re in a better place,” or “you’ll see them again,” or “it was their time to go,” but for whatever reason, these statements just didn’t do much in the way of comfort for me. That was a big revelation because I think I’ve said each of these things a hundred times.

I had one person put everything together and say, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll pray for your heart to be comforted and I know you will miss them a lot.  I still miss my _______ because my love was so deep for them too.  Let me know if you need my shoulder to lean on or to talk about your loving memories.  Can I buy you lunch? ” Now, that was a good one!  

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