Walking with someone who is grieving can be challenging. We want to be helpful but we’re not sure what to do. And, we feel a pressure to say the right things. But instead of worrying about the right thing to do or say, the best thing we can do is to be genuine and present. It’s about just being there willing to listen. Here are some other helpful things to keep in mind.
- Do be a patient listener. In grieving, it is healthy to express feelings of guilt, anger, confusion, or despair. Don’t judge what you hear. Pay attention to what they say and try to identify where they are in the stages of grief.
- Don’t pretend to have an answer for everything. Admit that you do not understand why or how God does what He does. Don’t disrespect the depth of their despair by trying to give a Sunday school answer. Grief takes time and it’s okay if they express anger towards God. He can handle it.
- Don’t be the “cheerleader” type, trying to pump up the bereaved with cheer and goodwill. Your job is to meet them where they are, not try to force them to be happy so they aren’t sad.
- Do give them permission to mourn. Grief is a necessary thing for those who have experienced loss. Bouts of crying is a good thing. Again, your job is to meet them where they are in the journey.
- Don’t offer cliches or trite phrases about death and suffering. Saying simple things like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” or “There are no words” is better than trying to say something that sounds spiritual.
- Do share some of your favorite Bible verses. It’s okay to share verses that bring you hope but be careful not to overload the person either.
- Do pray for the grieving person when you’re not with them. Ask for permission to pray for them in their presence. Keep your prayers short. Don’t turn them into sermons or advice. And, make sure to spend time praying for them when you’re not with them. Pray that God will reveal himself to this person in their grief and pray for wisdom as to how you can be helpful moving forward.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Why is listening such an important part of helping people with grief?
- What are some cliches or trite phrases people often use with those who grieve?
- Are there any points in this post you disagree with? Why?
- What other suggestions would you add to this list?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.