If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we are uncomfortable when we encounter those who are hurting. We want to "fix it". We want to "rescue" them. We want them to "move on". So, we give them pep talks, search for words that might inspire them and make them "snap out of it" or even distance ourselves from them because we do not know what to say or do.
No one, even if they have experienced a similar problem or loss, can understand exactly how someone else feels. Only God can. We can have empathy, we can try to imagine who we would feel but that is all. Recently I made a terrible blunder. I recounted to a friend a loss I had experienced many years ago and thought I meant well, I realized later that was exactly what I should not have done. You see, it wasn't about what me or my experiences. It was about my friend and her grief, her pain. I am learning that I need to talk less, listen more and just simply stand beside those who are wounded, those who are troubled and those who are grieving. They don't need my advice. They need my love and compassion.
As uncomfortable as we are with any type of sorrow, I think we would do well to remember that grief is not a bad thing and I believe that it is not something that should be repressed. In fact, I believe that any attempt to repress or diminish the reality of grief is harmful! There is a time and place for encouraging and uplifting words but we need to learn to allow people to mourn.
It seems like people used to understand this need. Even as recent as 100 years ago, it was customary for people to go into "mourning" for at least one year. People were allowed to mourn and in fact, it was expected and to not do so was considered to be abnormal or worse yet, it meant you didn't care about the deceased. How different it seems to be today. We want people to get over it and move on. What is wrong with us?
May we say less and listen more. May we stop giving sermons when we should just be giving someone a hug. May we learn how to stand with someone, even if it means standing beside them in the dark.
And thank you for the hug
You have no idea how much it means
I just read this in a widow blog...
Four years later, the pain is still raw. Time does not heal grief. Time does not make you better, she wrote on her blog. Time is just a reason for the rest of the world to assume all is healed, all is well.