"Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being." - Albert Schweitzer
The main question:
How do I help others who have lost a loved one?
Death and loss is not an easy subject to handle for anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes we can make an uncomfortable situation even worse by not knowing the right things to do and say.
I want to help make those times easier for both you and the grieving by giving some examples of what NOT to do and say, followed by a suggestion of what you SHOULD do or say.
Remember these things:
DO be there for them, but DON’T “hover”. Give them their space unless they ask for you to insert yourself into their grieving process.
DON’T tell them you know what they’re going through, because you don’t. Even if you’ve experienced a similar event in your life, everyone handles things differently. DO simply and sincerely say, “I’m sorry.”
DON’T ask how you can help. Even though this may seem like the right thing to do, there is a better way to phrase it. Asking how you can help or “Is there anything I can do?” makes them have to either think of a way you can help, which they don’t need to have to do at the moment, or to tell you “no”. This can possibly close the door on you being able to help in the future when they may really need it, because they may not want to go back and ask for your help once they’ve told you no to worry about it. Instead DO say, “Let me know if there is anything at all I can do to help. This way you leave the door open and give them the time they need without any pressure. They will appreciate this.
DON’T talk and offer advice unless they ask for it. DO listen. Just be there for them.
DON’T forget about them. DO be available if they need you. One idea is to send a card that says, once again, how sorry you are for their loss and that you are there should there be anything at all they need. Then offer you phone number and email so that they can reach you.
DON’T talk down to them as if they will break. If it’s a child, this may not apply, as children need to be spoken to on a level they can understand. But for an adult dealing with loss, speaking to them like a child or as if they will break may be annoying. I know it would be to me. Even with old people, while it’s necessary to speak softly, have probably seen and heard more than we can imagine and the last thing they want is to be made to feel awkward. DO be authentic. Don’t wear a mask, but be the real you, while remaining sympathetic.
DON’T tell them everything is going to be alright. We may believe it will be, but in that moment, they may not feel that way. Instead, DO tell them you love them. Those words are the most powerful in any language and have healing effects.
When it comes to those times when we must help others along a tough road, it’s best to think carefully about the things we do and say. This list is a good start.
This week’s Positive Review: The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel
"All say 'How hard it is that we have to die' - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live." - Mark Twain
How do I deal with death or the loss of a loved one?
Death is something all humans have in common. At some point, we will all face it, whether we are dealing with the loss of a loved one, or our own deaths.
Two areas to consider:
Finding peace in your own mortality
Dealing with the loss of a loved one
Finding peace in our own mortality
Casues of anxiety - FEAR
Fear of the unknown – The Afterlife. Figure out what you believe and don’t be satisfied until you’re convinced.
Fear of pain and turmoil. It will be what it will be. It may be quick and painless; you may not even see it coming, or it may be uncomfortable, even painful. Unless it’s something you’re currently going through, there’s just know way to know. Don’t let a fear of this control you. While we should try to be safe and use caution, we should still live and enjoy life. Living in constant fear of what might happen is not living at all.
Fear of who we’re leaving behind. People can and will find a way to survive. The always have. In order to leave a great legacy, don’t just DO for the ones you love, but TEACH them so that they may carry on your knowledge after you have passed on.
Fear of leaving things undone. Prioritize the things that are the most important to you and start there. It’s all you can do because you are just one person. If it’s really important work, appointing a person you trust to succeed you will help.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one
Recognize these things:
Death is a part of life. It happens to us all.
Cherish and savor the moments with the ones you love. Do it now so that you can have great, strong memories later.
It’s okay to cry. Man or woman, young or old, tears are sometimes needed. So don’t allow yourself or anyone else to tell you not to cry for as long as you need to. Everyone deals with loss in their own way.
Grief is a season and will pass. It is a part of finding closure. Like crying, allow it unless it begins to control you and negatively affect you in a permanent way.
Ask yourself what they would want you to do. Most, if not all, of your loved ones would tell you to move on after a time and not allow their passing to be the end of your life.
Time eventually heals. Time has a great way of helping pain to fade, while allowing the memories to remain. Take comfort in that.
The issue of heaven and hell, or “Will I ever see them again?”
That is a question that can only be answered individually. For me as a Christian, I firmly believe in the life, sacrifice in death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the one and only way to eternal life. That is good news for me as I deal with the loss of fellow Christians, and bad news for me as I deal with the loss of those who have rejected Christ. I understand the intolerance in this belief, but it is my personal belief system. As far as your comfort on this side of death, it will depend on your personal beliefs. I was asked my thoughts on these subjects by a listener, and so I have to be truthful. However, just because I believe this way, does not mean that I don’t respect your system of belief. We don’t have to agree. But as for me, the issue of heaven and hell is real and final.
These are deep, sensitive issues. They are hard to handle, especially when sharing them with someone who is worried about their own mortality or someone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one.
In the next episode, we’ll talk about how to help others deal with