My friend Rhonda Robinson knows grief all too well. In her excellent book, FreeFall, she draws from her personal grief journey to help those navigating a path they never signed up for. I asked her to share with us today. Here’s Rhonda.
In 2008, we lost our youngest son at age 13. Our world shattered. When I look back today, I clearly remember those who helped us. They probably don’t realize how much their gestures mattered.
Some of the most meaningful acts of kindness we experienced might surprise you. Don’t confuse the amount of effort on your end, with the amount of impact. What may seem insignificant on your end, can be enormous to the receiver.Don’t confuse the amount of effort on your end, with the amount of impact. What may seem insignificant on your end, can be enormous to them. #grief #help Click To Tweet
While every family is different, and there’s an exception to every rule, if you follow these guidelines, you can be sure you are helping a family in mourning in the most meaningful way.
Grief Guidelines—How to Help
- Try to refrain from asking ambiguous questions or making general offers to help. Such as, “Is there anything I can do?” Or, “What can I do to help?” A grieving family only wants their loved one back. It’s hard for them to see anything past that. You can be immensely helpful by just being attentive. Look for needs. Do the children have clothes to attend a funeral? Are there everyday chores that they normally do without giving much thought? A lawn that needs mowed, can suddenly become an overwhelming task.
- Don’t offer platitudes like, “It was just his time” or “God needed another angel.” These hurt the grieving person. This is a time when silence says more than words. Sitting and crying alongside someone grieving is more comforting than anything you can say. You. Your presence is more profound and comforting than any words.
- Don’t ask, “How are you doing?” There is no good answer. Those who are grieving deeply are just trying to keep breathing. The easiest fallback is simply, “I’m okay.” Not because they are, but because they just can’t express adequately how they really feel. So, instead of asking how they are, just let them know you have been thinking about them. Or let them know you’ve been praying for them and their family.
- Mention the person they lost. They need to talk about him or her. You are not going to remind them that they are gone. You are letting them know you remember.
Here’s a few things you might not know about the grieving process.
- Grief is exhausting, both mentally and physically, for many months after the funeral.
- There is no timeline for grief. Yes, there are phases, or “stages” of grief but simply moving through the stages does not mean the person is done. Or “ready to move on.”
- Grieving well, is mourning deeply, not hiding or controlling grief. Allow them the freedom to feel sad, cry, and mourn their loss. Tears are part of healing a tattered heart.
- Don’t wait for things to “get back to normal.” Normal has forever changed. Without the presence of their loved one, they must adjust to a new normal. This is often the longest and hardest part of the grieving process. It cannot be rushed or put on anyone else’s timeline.
- With a deep loss, such as the loss of a child, spouse, or parent, the second year is often harder than the first.
Always remember, that not only are they missing someone they loved, but they are also missing a part of themselves. They have just entered a world they never wanted to live in—one where their loved one no longer lives.
The very best thing you can do for someone who is grieving is being there when they need to cry. Most of all, giving them the freedom to recover at their own pace. Which may take years. And that is okay too.
We were not created for death, but for life everlasting. We will never be comfortable with death, only the hope and promise of life everlasting.
Rhonda Robinson is a mother of nine who carefully built her life nurturing her family, gardens, and writing parenting columns. Until, that is, her world shattered with the words, “Dan died at the scene.” Through life-altering events, disabling illnesses, and devastating loss, Rhonda learned to break down and rebuild her life. She became a witness to the undeniable, unseen hand of God.
Through her book FreeFall: Holding onto to Faith When the Unthinkable Strikes, Rhonda offers biblical wisdom that transforms the darkness into a season of profound change.
Links: www.RhondaRobinson.tvMy friend RhondaRobinson, @amotherslife, has written an excellent book on navigating #grief. I asked her to share with us today. #RefreshingFaith Click To Tweet
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