“God is for you! He said he would give you beauty for ashes, but you’ve got to let go of the ashes. Let go of the disappointments. Give Him your hurts and pain.” ~ Joel Osteen
When a loved one loses their child, it is very difficult to know exactly what to say to console their pain. With all of your heart, you want to love them and comfort them but may feel fearful of saying the wrong thing or incorrectly expressing yourself. Since many feel paralyzed by the correct form of outreach, as they are unable to comprehend that level of loss, they stay silent instead.
In an effort not to have your silence come across of lack of concern, it’s best to be honest. Speaking from your heart is always the best, genuine, and most appreciated approach to most situations, especially one as delicate as this.
Encouraging words may include:
– I’m praying for you.
– I love you.
– I’m here for you. (And mean it! If they reach out to you in a time of need, please don’t let them down.)
In this situation, actions may speak much louder than words.
– Reach out and hold them
– Hold their hand and pray with them
– Go for a walk with them, so they can get out into the fresh air
– Sit with them in support and allow them to grieve, freely releasing their emotion
For my sister Shawna, the most emotional part of her grieving process happened after Michael’s funeral. Once everyone had returned to his or her “normal” lives, she was forced to live with the realization that Michael wouldn’t be returning home. Although our spiritual belief held that Michael was flourishing in heaven, our human hearts ached knowing that our future life wouldn’t include Michael’s physical body.
This was when she needed her family and friends the most.
Actions that made her feel loved, comforted, and supported during this time were subtle gestures of help. They included simple things such as:
– Stopping by with a bucket of chicken, bag of bagels & cream cheese, or other prepared food, so that she didn’t have to worry about putting a meal together for the family
– Stopping by to help her clean the house, do the laundry, or other simple household chores
– Offering to pick up or watch her other children
– Stopping by to take her out to lunch, brunch, nail salon, etc…
– Reminiscing with her about the fun times shared with Michael
– Michael always felt much closer to us when we kept his memory alive in our conversations and outings. This tip really helped her cope with her loss.
Remembering Michael and including his memory at all of our family events, and during family prayer, really helped our entire family heal. Since Michael’s birthday, heaven day, and holidays are quite difficult for my sister, we always make it a point to offer her flowers, a loving phone call, a big hug, or cards to let her know that we love her and that his memory is alive and well within us.
Most importantly, we must all remember that everyone handles grief in their own way. As a result, we must all do our best to be respectful and adjust our outreach in an effort to best support our loved one. However, I believe it is also our obligation to the people we love that we don’t allow their season of grieving to turn into a lifetime of grieving.
One fine day, we will all be reunited with our loved ones up in heaven. And, the best way to honor their life is to live ours to the fullest. They wouldn’t want us to stay sad forever. Instead, I believe, they would want us to cherish their memory and keep walking our steps in faith.