Thursday, June 6, 2013

What not to say

In the last couple of months I've had some moments when I've had to scratch my head in wonder. I've had moments when anger has bubbled over people and their stupid words.  Some people have been absent altogether, caring more about avoiding discomfort than loving on a grieving family.  But  I've also been blessed by the sacrifice and compassion of friends and family.  I'm touched by the practical ways people meet needs and by the just "being there" of others.

Until you go through a major loss yourself, you just can't know what to say or not to say. It's not that people are intentionally heartless or dumb; they just don't know better.

So, here are a few thoughts on my mind... these are certainly not all encompassing and may not apply to everyone, but they might help some people "get it" a little better.

What not to say ...

“I know how you feel.” or “I understand.”  No, I’m sorry, but you don’t.  Each person’s lost relationship is their own.  Even another widow cannot fully grasp what another widow experiences.
“Call me if you need anything.”  Honestly, a widow won’t.  She is too distraught and distracted to even know what she needs.  Don’t ask her to make decisions at this time; the motivation just isn’t there.
“God has a new purpose/ministry plan for you.”  Yes, that is probably true but not something she needs to hear right now.  Half of her was just ripped off; she needs time for healing before she can walk again.

Don’t avoid the tears.  Don’t avoid the question “how are you?” Don’t avoid the silence (sometimes just “being” there is best).  Don’t try to always “get their mind off of it”—it’s there, and avoiding/denying will only delay the grieving process.  Don’t expect us to be hunky-dory in a couple of months.

 share memories/stories.
 hug often (they need the physical tough).
 have patience and compassion.
 bring a meal or flowers if you feel you must do something.
 keep praying.

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