“Above all, show your love. Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened up in your friend’s life, without flinching or turning away. Your steadiness of presence is the absolute best thing you can give.” ~ Refuge in Grief
I truly believe that our friends and family WANT to be helpful as they companion us in grief.
But if they’ve never known great loss, they may well be clueless.
I love to share ideas, graphics and stories that can help them learn how.
Here’s a good list, just right for sharing:
- Don’t compare griefs, ask questions.
- Don’t minimize, respect their experience.
- Don’t give compliments, trust your friend.
- Don’t be a cheerleader, mirror their reality.
- Don’t talk about “later”, stay in the present moment.
- Don’t evangelize, trust their self-care.
- Don’t start with solutions, get consent.
I’m not computer savvy enough to make graphics like this so I love it when I find them.
I especially like this one which puts so many good ideas in a simple to use, easy to remember format.
These are absolutely perfect for anyone walking with a grieving friend.
I have been guilty of this more times than I ‘d like to admit.
I assume someone else’s feelings mirror my own and act on that assumption by withdrawing or not showing up or “giving them space”.
But the problem is, most times, on reflection, I realize my action (or inaction) was really all about sparing my own feelings or staying within my own comfort zone.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
~Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
So I’m learning to ask hard questions.
Read the rest here: Ask Me, Please.
I admit it: I’m a fixer.
It’s probably genetic (won’t mention any names!) but it has been reinforced by training and life experience.
When faced with a difficult or messy situation, my mind instantly rolls through an inventory of available resources and possible solutions.
And I tended to cut people off mid-sentence with my brilliant (?) plan to save the day.
But there are things you just can’t fix.
Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen
I think if we are absolutely honest, most of us would admit we have few relationships that operate without some kind of script.
We are friends with someone because we like the same hobbies or spend time together at a job or ball park or church.
We fall in love with someone because they “complete” us and offer companionship, emotional support and stability.
When the script fails (for whatever reason) we tend to pull away from those relationships.
But if I choose to enter into the suffering of another, I must do so without a script and commit to the long haul.
I must follow his or her lead, allow him or her to guide my response and refuse to impose my preferences on that hurting heart.
I’m there to hold a hand and help a heart hold onto hope.
I‘ve never been the cheerleader type.
No long legs, long hair or graceful moves that might have caught the eye of the ever watchful gatekeepers who picked the favored few each year to represent beauty on the sidelines.
So (I’ll be honest here) I really didn’t give the position much thought beyond the fact that those girls always got asked to dances first.
But in these years since Dominic left us I’ve learned something very important about cheerleaders-both the ones in the cute clothes at sporting events and the ones that come alongside others in real life: they make a difference.
Cheerleaders are more important than you think.
Someone calling courage can mean a heart holds on when it’s about to let go.
Someone reminding you what’s at stake if you give up can help you dig deep for that last bit of effort hiding inside.
Someone chanting rhythm to your plodding forward progress can provide another focus for your mind besides the throbbing pain in every step.
Someone showing up and standing by your side even when the odds are against you says, “You are worth the effort-win or lose!”
You don’t have to be a certain size or a certain type to be a real-life cheerleader.
You don’t even have to fit into those cute little skirts.
The only qualification is an unqualified commitment to showing up and being seen and holding on and hanging in no matter where life takes the ones you love.
You have the power to be the difference in somebody’s life.
I guarantee it.
So get out there and cheer them on!
We do it all the time in the physical world-leave the shopping cart in line with the admonition to the person behind us to “hold our place” while we run to get that forgotten item.
We leave a gap for that minivan to pull in just where the construction cones narrow a highway from two lanes to one.
We open a door and step aside so the elderly lady with her hands full can manage to get through without dropping the load.
But most of us are not as good at it in relationships.
Read the rest here: Holding Space
Some people’s passions lead them to headline making, world changing careers.
Most of us spend our days in smaller ways.
And we often feel like our tiny efforts create barely a ripple in the giant ocean of human experience.
But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect to make a difference in someone’s life.
All you have to do is care.
Compassionate companionship is a gift.
Learning to sit with another heart in joy and sorrow, victory and pain, sunshine and darkness all the while assuring her you will not leave-no matter what–is priceless.
Think about it: People pay thousands of dollars for a stranger to listen to their heart cries.
Sure, sometimes folks need a professional to help them untangle complex emotions, underlying mental health issues and substance abuse problems. But often, at root, they are simply lonely with no trusted companion for life’s journey.
Who do you know that needs a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, a heart to affirm that his or her heart is worthy of love?
Choose to reach out.
Be a friend.
Make a difference.