Trust is the armor of a woman who commits her life to one she has never met and may never know.
The grieving mother has a backstory etched into her soul – imposed upon her by the unthinkable.
We have a big family. Our home is teaming with life and has been for decades. But two little boys are missing. Knit together in my womb, not yet completed – their lives ended without warning. Two different seasons – no explanation.
This mom knows the jolt of grief – a thief that can rip the joy of living right out from under you.
But God - who is rich in mercy and ‘well acquainted with grief’ draws near to the brokenhearted. He reaches into a mother’s heart and creates her life anew. Grief’s journey to wholeness is a long road marked with countless encounters. When someone you love suffers loss – here are some ideas. Take courage – step into their broken world – and offer hope.
10 Ideas for Giving Life in Times of Grief
- Pray! Really pray. Pray the word of God – insert your friend’s names in personally. Agree with God’s word over their lives. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
- Choose your words carefully. Questions can lead to exaggeration and sensation. A true friend can be satisfied with minimal information. I know it is hard – but some questions have no answers. Trust the sovereignty of God and let the facts speak for themselves. Let comforting the family overshadow rehearsing the details or speculating what went wrong. Luke 6:31, ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’ is the rule of ethics here. Caution: Social Media spreads the news instantly. With this power comes responsibility toward those we speak of. Facebook is no place for detailed questions. Be general in reference and uplifting in hope. Treat the brevity of the loss with the same weight in response. Think before you ‘like’ and reread before you ‘post’.
- Handwritten notes can be saved, read and reread. I have a box of notes written to us during the loss of our sons – but I no longer have access to the emails. Some of the senders I hardly knew and they never knew the impact of their words. Your note may be ‘fitly spoken in due season’. Proverbs 25:11
- Take a meal. Deliver food in disposable containers and make something special. Online Meal Trains help to deploy a community of friends. Take the food personally if possible and stay a few moments to give respect. No worries about what to say – your presence will speak volumes.
- Close friends - be there. The family needs you. A long-time friend took me to lunch. She insisted. I wanted to turn her down so badly – and go back to bed – alone. She knew me well and would not take ‘no’ for an answer. She helped me to feel normal again. We blended in to a girlie tea room and enjoyed the moment. Healing!
- Mark your calendar! Heavenly children have 2 birthdays – the day of the loss and the expected or natural birthday. The family will remember both dates. When life moves on for the world around them – your acknowledgment will mean a great deal to the family.
- Refer to the child by name. We gave our babies ‘heavenly names’ – we know them as Judah and Nathaniel. Their names are etched upon their gravestones and into our hearts. A child’s name is sweetness to a mothers soul.
- Celebrate life. Flowers and plants are alive! When we lost our first son, I just wanted to be around living things! I had an overwhelming desire to plant a flowerbed. A friend showed up with a wagon full of perennials – she understood. Her creativity was unique to her personality. Yours is too!
- Treat the family – like they’re normal. They may long to return to normalcy and relish opportunities to experience everyday life without the weight of grief and pain. Enjoy their company – laugh, listen and love. If you do not know the family well, be careful not to avoid them in public because you do not know what to say. Look them in the eye – treating them with dignity. Loss is a new normal for the grieving family. Their loss is permanent. Show them your friendship is permanent too.
- Attend the memorial. When we arrived at the graveyard for the burial of Nathan – I assumed there was another graveside service close by. Tim smiled and responded, ‘Debi, these people are here of us’. Businessmen in suits, children standing in honor, faces of close friends and those we barely knew – all together for one purpose – to honor the life of a little man we would never know – this side of heaven.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon [you], because he has anointed [you] to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent [you] to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18
Please Comment: We would love to hear your stories and further ideas. This is not a comprehensive list – there is not one. History is continually being written by you and I. May we love well and show our families, by example, how to do likewise.