I CAN REMEMBER THE SCENE VIVIDLY. It was
just over a year after we had married, and Ros was in the utmost
distress, having experienced her first miscarriage. Sheila had
dashed over to be with her, and I can see her now, sitting on the
edge of our bed, just holding Ros and loving her. Never
underestimate the strength of such support and friendship!
There is nothing we need more during
our times of grief than the help and presence of caring people. Many
of us feel instinctively inclined, however, to steer well clear of
the grieving. We rationalize to ourselves that they will be happier
to be left on their own – or hope that because they received such a
manifest dose of “divine anaesthetic” in the early stages they are
doing just fine.
It is relatively easy to appease our
conscience by making an occasional visit, or by sending a card. This
is infinitely better than doing nothing, but there may be more that
we can do for them.
In case this sounds as though we are
committing ourselves to a long-term dependency, it is important to
say first that grieving people often need a measure of short-term
dependency in order to make a full recovery, and secondly that we
are not speaking of a life-long commitment. Nine times out of ten
their strength will return and our involvement will taper off.
In the past, such support was usually
supplied “en famille,” or left to the parish priest or church
elders. By definition, these people can only care for so many. Since
everyone fares best when they feel listened to and cared for, it is
important for us to “lend” our strength to those whose reserves have
been depleted, not only when a literal bereavement has occurred, but
in the aftermath of any form of loss.
This section is aimed primarily,
therefore, not only for those who are formally involved in grief and
trauma counselling, but at helping all of us to come alongside those
who are bowed down with grief.
As with every other aspect of life,
blessing comes as we share what the Lord has given us, rather than
“hoarding and holding on” to it.
Reflect and Pray
If you find yourself telephoning those weighed down with grief
instead of visiting, or texting instead of ringing, or avoiding
getting in touch at all – is it perhaps, because of unresolved
issues in your own life?
Are you afraid that
coming face to face with such raw emotions will expose your own
Rather than remaining
aloof or giving the appearance that we are expecting the grieving to
“pull themselves together,” let’s overcome our fear of being
emotionally drained and have the courage to come alongside.
Strong God, Saving God,
as I don my lifeguard’s vest
and plunge into the deep at Your command
help me to lend support to souls in distress,
until those who are floundering
are restored and re-empowered.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.