When my best friend lost her nine-year-old daughter last November, I told her, I’m on my way. I dropped everything and drove to be with her. I didn’t bring anything with me but the clothes on my back. I stayed with her for three days, and although I looked a hot mess, I didn’t care. I was comforting my friend. I felt her pain as though I had experienced it myself. I felt her sorrow and her confusion. I felt her reaching out to God for help. I felt it all, and as I sat with her, walked with her, embraced her, and listened to her, I was constantly checking in with Holy Spirit to guide me and He is still guiding me today where she is concerned.
There is wisdom for you if you are caring for someone who has experienced loss. God has an abundance of wisdom to give you. He says He is near to the brokenhearted, so why wouldn’t He give wisdom for caring for the brokenhearted.
Here are some things I have learned that has helped me over the years in comforting others.
1. Be there. Often we fear saying the wrong thing, so we avoid calling or coming around. When we do this, we cause the person to feel isolated and alone. Be there for them. Cook, clean, fix something around their house, organize something, take them out to eat, read to them, take them for a walk,… anything at all. Your presence shows them you care. Even when you have no words to say, your presence alone says, I love you, and I’m here for you.
2. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Their hearts are broken, and only God can minister to their brokenness. Try very hard to put yourself in their shoes. How would you want someone to talk to you? What would you want someone to do for you? Think about how you would want someone to love you through this.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who passed away. A lot of times, I find that people enjoy talking about their loved ones. They want to share favorite memories even if they cry while sharing them. It’s ok.
4. Don’t take anything they say personally. Remember, hurting people tend to hurt people, and most times, this is done unintentionally. Because of the pain they feel, their minds are looking for answers, and they may say something that can sound hurtful, just remember, they love you, and they’re hurting. Forgive them.
5. Remember to care for your own needs and care for your priorities. You still have a life outside of this friendship, so it is important to do things that give you life. Also care for your family. They are your support.
6. Remember, this is their journey. You may be walking with your friend, but this is their journey, and the Lord is with them, and He will be a far better friend to them than you ever could be.
7. After every conversation, release them to the Lord. I know you want to help them heal, but remember who you are and who you are not. You are not the Great Physician, you are not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. Release them to the one who is.
8. Keep your commitments. Your friend needs as much stability as possible. Broken promises are not good. If you say you’re going to be there, be there. Be dependable and reliable.
9. Plan to do things together. Sometimes, they may be doing very well, then moments later, they feel hopeless and in despair. One way to try to keep your friend from slipping into despair is to make future plans with them. Even if it’s as small as going to get pedicures next week to going to visit Australia in the summer. Make plans and invite them along with you.
10. Pray with them and pray for them. It is good to pray for someone in your alone time with God; however, it can mean even more to pray with someone. There’s nothing like hearing someone pour out their hearts to God for you. Let them hear your love and how much you care for them as you talk with the Lord about them.
11. Know your limitations. Because of all the responsibilities you have, you may have to tell your other friends that you are focusing on this one grieving friend right now. You can’t afford to burn yourself out trying to be there for everyone.
(Read Psalm 46:1)