Just a few days ago God spoke in my spirit as I was praying about what I was supposed to do. I was driving to meet with one really good friend, Polly, and two of her friends who had all lost their sons, two in November and one in December. I knew I was going to see three brokenhearted women who were walking a “road” I had never been on! God said…”Love and Listen!” Usually when God speaks to my spirit it is simple and very few words…so it was no surprise when these words were simple and easy for me to do!
In fact, when I arrived they were already there and all greeted me with warm, smiling, but very grief stricken faces. Hard to describe their eyes…but they were so sad! As we sat Polly led the conversation with the other two precious moms and asked them to share their stories of the nightmare of learning of the sudden and very unexpected death of their beloved sons!
As I sat and listened intently my heart was crushed for them. As they clearly articulated the events…the thoughts…the emotions…and the complete devastation that they had experienced and were still experiencing….my heart ached as much as it could…considering I had no clue really because I had never experienced that kind of grief. I could only imagine…which truly doesn’t even come close to “their very real…and completely life-changing experience!
As I did the best I could to do exactly what I felt like God had shown me to do….”Love and Listen”…it became very apparent that these precious moms weren’t looking for solutions and suggestions. They needed to SHARE, to CRY, to be heard. They actually wanted to share about their tragic loss, their feelings, their anger, their pain and remember their precious boys to empathetic and sympathetic listening ears!
Just from listening I learned some very valuable insight, “take aways”, that I would like to share. Some very important things that can help ALL of US learn how to help others who are HEARTBROKEN over loss, especially the loss of a child. I want to preface what I learned with this–as these moms shared their very “RAW” emotions and experiences, they were very quick to point out that they knew people were well meaning in their reactions and their gestures of kindness.
First, grieving is different for every single person. It comes and goes. Sometimes, for a long time, there are NO tears. Please don’t judge! You can be rendered NUMB, in denial, angry, sad, stuck, immobile, non-responsive.
Yes, if someone loses a loved one…especially a child…they might not respond to you for days.. Also, often when the “sudden tragic happens,” they don’t have time to grieve. They have to “react” to the necessary. Saying to the person, “I know how you feel,” unless you have suffered the exact same thing is not appropriate. If you have had a similar experience, they are not at a point of being ready to hear your story. They need to be loved and heard if they “need to talk,” but sometimes a presence is all that is needed.
I think of David in 2 Samuel grieving the loss of his good friend Jonathan. He expresses how much Jonathan loved him and how much David misses him. “…Jonathan lies slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:25-26). He sought out family members of Jonathan to minister to on a long term basis.
You have to let those grieving guide you and you have to respect their wishes. Also, food for others is needed but those grieving usually aren’t hungry. In the days to come meal gift cards are greatly helpful. The grief is so intense and unpredictable that “grieving people” eat at odd times. They all said that they threw away so much food. So if you are close to someone grieving, they DO need food immediately to feed people from out of town but in the days to come think about sprinkling in some gift cards so they can get carry out.
All three ladies said that if it is several months or even years later, you can still say, “I am so sorry” because they will never forget. Their heart will always hurt and NOT acknowledging the loss sends the wrong message. They were quick to say that they realize people don’t know what to say but all that is needed is, “We are so sorry. How are you today?” All days are different for years after you bury a loved one, especially a child. So remembering special dates in the years to come is very much appreciated.
One last thing, all of these moms struggle with looking at the date that their child’s life ended…so rethink sending something with that date or writing that date as a “visual”. If you have done this, do not despair…we can all learn here. There is just something about the date of the death that will always be a very painful, dark thing!
Take the time today to pray for anyone you know of who may be grieving. Loss of loved ones is a natural part of life…but an extremely painful walk. For believers, we have hope in the midst of loss. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 tells us, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ~C. S. Lewis