When others grieve..!
Actually, there are a lot of ways we can go wrong here – saying something that isn’t appreciated by one who is grieving, even when we are trying to comfort them. But chances are, we have been, or will be, put in the position of trying to comfort someone who is experiencing a painful loss. That is an important role we all play from time to time. So, what do you say?
I remember a story told by Joseph Bayly whenever I struggle to say the “right thing” to someone who is hurting. Mr. Bayly lost three children to death over the course of several years. He wrote a book called ‘View From A Hearse’ in which he talks about his grief. He says this about comforting those who grieve: “I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did. Someone else came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat with me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply and left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”
I have found Joseph Bayly’s experience to be excruciatingly typical. Both men wanted to help. Both men cared. But only one truly comforted. The difference was that one tried to make him feel better, while the other just let him feel. One tried to say the right things. The other listened. One told him it would be all right. When put in the difficult position of comforting someone in emotional pain, sometimes what needs to be said can be said best with a soft touch or a listening ear. No words. And though at times the quieter approach has felt inadequate, I have come to realize that it can make a bigger difference than we may ever know.
I end with this little incident: A little girl came home from a neighbour’s house where her friend had died. “Why did you go?” questioned the father. “To comfort her mother,” replied the child. “What could you say to comfort her?” asked the curious father. “I didn’t say anything,” said the little child, “I just climbed into her lap and cried with her..!”