People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
The following was something that I wrote to clear my mind during my mother’s illness and subsequent death. I was thinking about it today and decided to share it.
It’s a funny thing. During my mother’s illness grief was present but it was hard to separate it from the other emotions… fear, panic, anxiety, apprehension, sadness, were all present. Grief was one among many. Now the others are resting..they crop up from time to time but not consistently. Only grief is consistent and somehow is easier to bear when there is time to see it by itself.
Illness, uncertainty Decisions..choices
No time Rushing Home.. hospital.. work.. family
No time Cant’ wait Must go Must do
On and on
So much Feelings crowding Pushing Jostling for position
One on top .. For now.. Fear
Then shifting Moving Panic wins
No time To understand Or sort
Weeping Sadness wins And tears Wipe clean
For one instant
For those of us who are Christians the question is often asked “if God is so good why do bad things happen?” Unfortunately, this is the unanswerable question. I wish I could say that I know how to explain this. I don’t
Over the years many theologians have written about this question and some have attempted to answer it…. none to my satisfaction. Many people who question there being a God jump on this problem. If there is a God why doesn’t he/she do something about the many tragedies in the world? It always puts us up against a hard spot. To them, it seems trivial for us to say that we don’t know. It seems that we can’t defend our belief.
Why is one person’s cancer healed and another’s not? Why did a friend’s child die in a car accident? Why does a pastor friend’s grandson have brain cancer? How I wish I could come up with an answer that made sense.
To those in pain the statement that God/Jesus will be with us in our pain and suffering doesn’t help. The fact that Jesus also suffered is little consolation. So if we can’t answer the question what can we do?
I long ago learned that I can’t fix everything but I can be there. I call it a ministry of presence. I can’t take away the pain but I can let them know that they do not have to go through it alone. Not only does God promise to be with them but the community of faith is called to love, comfort, and sustain them through the pain. The caveat is that we have to be in a community of faith that companions those in need.
We need to search until we find that place. We have to keep looking and keep in mind that only if we offer ourselves to be part of that will it work. To just appear in church during the week and go home does not make you part of the community. You must open yourself to become a caring member. This may not be easy and it won’t work until you find your place but don’t give up.
Remember, churches are made up of people and people have flaws. No church is perfect. No church has all the answers. Just find one that fills your soul in some way. It won’t be everything that you want it to be but it can still be home. After all, our families are also flawed and imperfect and yet still family. Find a church family with all that implies.
see more on this topic on https://wordpress.com/post/heargodinothervoices.blog/1028
I have often said that anyone who doesn’t like living in the USA should have to live in a third world country for at least a year. We lived in Panama for two and 1/2 years and it made a lasting impression on me. There are so many things that I saw there that changed the way I think.
I appreciate that I can live in a place where the police and the military are not one and the same. I am grateful that my home does not have to be surrounded by walls with wire on top and the only yard is inside the wall. I am glad that the law does not allow me to be arrested and dealt with without trial or any recourse. I am grateful that there still is a semblance of a middle class and not just the very rich and the horribly poor.
While living there I made a car trip across the isthmus from Colon to Panama City. In front of me was a small bus called a “Chiva.” Along the road the Chiva stopped and I stopped behind it to watch a family get in the bus. There were what appeared to be several generations from young children to the elderly. Several men were carrying a small coffin. The bus started up and continued on the road for several miles where it stopped at the entrance to a cemetery. There was a priest waiting at the entrance and the family filed off the bus with the coffin of a child and followed the priest to the burial site.
I was moved to tears by this incident. Just the thought of how this family lived and coped with everyday life was overwhelming. So poor that they had to take a bus with the coffin to bury their child.
We are so blessed with the life we have. I know that there are communities that suffer from poverty and sickness here. That is why, although I can’t help elsewhere, I am called to help where I can.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
It has been over a year and I am still grieving my ministry. The mediation program may help but I don’t think it will replace the joy I got from ministering to people. Part of what I did was lay hands on those who wanted prayer for healing. This was so moving for me. I always prayed before turning my hands over to God for it was not me. If any healing took place it was not my healing but God’s. I miss this connection with God and others so much.
People would come to a small chapel after taking communion and I would anoint them with oil and pray for them. Most of the time I would take them in my arms and pray from my soul. This was a moment to share with someone else and with God. The church I attend now wouldn’t find it appropriate for me to do this since I am not ordained. I do miss it so.
I hate it that I can’t let all of this go. I still dream about it. It seemed so much to be where I belonged. Sometimes I am so upset with God but I know he can handle it. Somehow there will be something for me to do. I know that there will be a place for me. I just have to wait. There is that awful word again. Wait. But I will wait for God to speak.
There are times when I wish I lived in a bubble and the world outside didn’t matter. Inside the bubble would be love, joy, peace, calm. All the things I long for now. I should add that I am blessed to have love but I could use the others right now.
The trials that I have had in my life were mostly mine to deal with. Something that I could do something about. The trials I have now I have no control over. I can’t fix any of it. I would share the problems but since they belong to others I don’t feel comfortable doing that.
Yesterday I did have to go with my son to put his beloved dog to sleep. My pain was not only for the dog but for my son and his family. The sadness of losing a pet is heartrending. I can’t fix that pain but I was there to share his grief. That seems to be my role at the moment. I can share the pain but that is all. And I can pray.
Sometimes when I pray I just sing the song:
Jesus, Jesus, let me tell you what I know
You have given me your spirit. I love you so.
It is so much easier when it is your own problems. At least then you know that the choices are up to you for good or bad. We have all made bad choices in our lives and suffered the consequences. The world will continue on that way. Bad choices will always be made. Let us just hope that good comes in the long run.
The past few weeks have tested my ability to not lose my temper. It seems that everything that I have tackled has been complicated to deal with. Nothing has been easy. None of this has been life threatening but just plain aggravating. The world is getting so complicated that there is no easy.
I mentioned before about dealing with medical issues and that process has become so complicated that I am not sure that there is anyone who understands how it works. Doctor’s offices have now contracted out to someone filing the necessary paperwork to deal with issues that need preapproval or precertification. One more step to confuse things and send them out into the universe to disappear. I really feel sorry for the average person trying to parse the system.
Also today we took my granddog to the vet and he has lymphoma. That is a terrible diagnosis in humans and worse in dogs. Bottom line he may live a month at the most and will be sent to the rainbow bridge if he is in pain. For any of you who have pets and love them like we do this is losing a member of the family. I really think our pets keep us sane. It is so wonderful to come home to a house where someone is so glad that you are there. My dogs are my “blankies.” My favorite writer says blankies are an icon for God.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Dogs have all of those!