Entering into Grief

With tears running down my cheeks, I sent out a couple quick texts to a few friends. I was bleeding… I had just lost our fourth baby. I didn’t know how to think. I was raw. One friend texted back the polite, and common response…”I am sorry. Is there anything I can do?”

My response in turn… “No, just pray. Thank you.”

But in reality, there was something they could do I just didn’t know what it was.

Then another friend texted: “I am on my way over.” I hadn’t invited her, but she was coming. I wasn’t going to tell her not to come.

A few minutes later, I was sobbing in my friend’s arms. She had even gotten to me first; before my husband could even come from work. She pulled out play-doh and sat down with my children while I made necessary phone calls to my doctor and parents.

Then another text, from another friend. “I am coming to watch your children. Go spend the afternoon out with your husband.”

As one dear friend stepped out the door, another stepped in. My husband came home, we went out for the afternoon. No treatment could have been better for us. I needed the space from my little children and a time to grieve alone with my husband. I was gifted that. I did not know it was even needed.

Then a phone call came while we were out, and another friend spent a few minutes on the phone and prayed with me. I could not speak due to my tears, but her prayer for comfort blessed my soul. I was feeling supported. I was not alone. I felt God close even in my pain. I know those first-responders were key in helping me think through my pain in a biblical way without bitterness and anger.

We arrived at home to find dinner made for our family, the dishes washed, and the children in good care. With a hug and prayer, my sweet friend slipped out the door after having her day completely altered for my behalf.

That evening, home, the children in bed, a church elder came by with his wife for ten minutes. They didn’t even sit down, but stood in our doorway and embraced us in prayer, and then quickly departed.

Sleep evaded me that night. It is hard to set aside mental pain for rest.

There was no knock, but when I went to check the mail the next morning, there on our doorstep was a very small bouquet of flowers and the sweetest note from another mother who had walked the same journey of loss. That was the only bouquet of flowers I got.

If my child had lived to be born, I might have had a few more, maybe even a plot and a stone. But, with a miscarriage, there is little that a mother has to remind herself of the treasure she once held inside of her. I pressed the flowers in the big family Bible where they are today. That is all I have to remember my baby. I have no pictures, no stories, no baby blanket…just empty hands and a bouquet of tiny pressed flowers.

Yes, even now, I am crying, and it has been several years ago. Such holes…never die, never fade, never heal…. we simply learn how to live with that emptiness and incorporate it into the person we are.

Grief… it is a hole, an emptiness inside. Grief is not always accompanied by death, but always by loss. The loss of a church family, the loss of a marriage, the loss of trust in a person, a broken friendship; the ache of a child who is alive, but no longer cares to be in touch; the permanent loss of health, the loss of a life-long dream…we all experience grief throughout our lives. We all understand it.

Why then, is it such a struggle for us to understand how to bless other people as they journey through grief? Or do we know how to bless, but find grieving people uncomfortable to be around? I have come to despise the statement: “Let me know if I can help.” It is a complete cop-out. Because, I believe we know how we should help. We are just reluctant to commit our hearts to the matter of helping. It is hard.

In response to “How can I help?” I have often heard the answer, “There is nothing you can do.” I have given that answer myself on many occasions. I have found it takes a discerning friend to know for sure if that is the case. Because I have found through seasons of grief, that very often, there is much that can be done, but the person grieving has no clue what that is! In the midst of grief it is hard to process the pain, much less the suddenly stupid tasks of life. It is important not only to have people close to us pick up the slack as we work through grief…clean, make food, care for children, yard-work, laundry, groceries, church, and work responsibilities. It is also valuable to simply show a face, give a prayer in person, and create a memory around the moment for the grieving heart to hold onto as time passes.

That weekend, a few days after my loss, I was at at church. One of my friends who knew of my heartbreak spoke nothing of my pain, no words of comfort, no prayer. She chatted with me as though nothing had happened that past week. Later, that same friend texted me to apologize for not talking about my mis-carriage. She let me know she was praying, but didn’t want to talk about it with me in case that was too hard for me. I learned a good lesson that day about what should never be done. One should never ignore the loss of a grieving person. Yes, it is going to hurt and possibly bring tears to discuss the subject. But by bringing up that loss, one is able to enter into that pain and be a part of the comfort. Even along hug without words would have sufficed. My friend completely stepped out of my grief by not acknowledging it to me. I had done the same to others in the past. My mistakes toward grieving hearts in my youth are many. Lesson Learned…Find ways to step into other’s grief. By not purposing to to step into it, you are stepping out of it.

Oh how frightened we are of saying the wrong thing and increasing a person’s grief; as a result excuse ourselves from the matter completly and make ourselfve unfit to minister to that grieving heart. I have failed in this area far too often. But lessons have been learned and I have allowed my own grief to be my teacher in such cases. I do not have to walk the same path of grief to offer support and encouragment to the grieving hearts I know. I only need to understand my own grief and step out to help them understand theirs. When I am told there is nothing that can be done, the cry of my own heart outweighs that answer. And instead I hear: “Help me please…I don’t know what to do.”

Oh sisters, Sometimes it isn’t a physical need that we are meeting, but an emotional need. The need to feel supported runs deep. As I have been loved through grief, I reach out to other grieving hearts.

  1. Be there
  2. Give a hug
  3. Write a note
  4. Flowers
  5. Food
  6. Talk about the loss
  7. Talk about the grief and pain
  8. Pray WITH the grieving person not just for
  9. Don’t have them reach out to you for help, because they won’t find ways to reach out to them with help
  10. Don’t wait for time to pass, act quickly. First responders to grief are crucial to helping a grieving heart work through the pain biblically

The point? Step boldly and quickly into the grief of others. Because when we don’t, that is when we cause pain.

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