Inspiration for You: Coping in the Presence of Grief
Many of us feel helpless or uncomfortable when we try to comfort someone who has experienced a tremendous loss. We don’t know quite how to act or what to say. But we can learn to respond in a helpful, caring way. Consider wrong and right ways to approach the grieving.
A. Wrong: retreat in helpless silence. We may avoid referring to the tragedy, thinking, “What can I say?” or “They do not need me.” We may fear being embarrassed, thinking, “What if they/I break down?” or “I’m afraid I might cry.” Forced humor is never appropriate. Also avoid prejudging or blaming. Christ made it clear that we are not to assume someone is paying for his/her sins.
B. Right: offer solace. By listening (James 1:19), by empathizing (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6: 22), by seeking God’s wisdom (James 1:5), and by realizing it is OK to cry or just be silent together.
Grief: A normal psychological reaction to any distressing situation in life, including loss (of spouse—by death or divorce; of home or job; limb amputation); distressing situations (rape, jail, rejection by spouse or child; break-up of a relationship; broken dreams—such as abortion or the unmet expectations of a child). Anyone can experience grief.
Bereavement: A process during which we are in the throes of the memories of the irretrievable loss.
The Bereaved: The persons who have experienced the loss.
Grief Work: A means of (a) emancipating oneself from the deceased; (b) adjusting to life without the deceased; and (c) making new relationships and attachments.
Mourning: The way we deal with our grief. It takes time for grief and mourning to subside. It is not possible, even by gallant mental effort, to drive these feelings away. People cannot just easily shake off grief. Grieving is a process. The bereaved have to complete their “grief work.” Take time to understand the process and stages of grieving.
Ideas for Bereavement
- Have a regular prayer circle.
- Memorize Bible comfort texts.
- Memorize comfort poetry/quotations.
- Learn comfort songs/hymns by heart.
- Read books and articles on stress management, grief recovery, etc.
- Attend seminars on stress management, grief recovery, etc.
- Collect/try various recipes for meals or finger foods.
- Familiarize yourself with children’s stories, songs, poems.
Source: Oh Yes We Care: A Ministry to the Bereaved by Gloria Lindsey Trotman