Your friend’s parent has died. There’s no nice way to say it and sugar coating it or being tactful is just insulting. It’s an ugly, excruciating fact that breaks into your life, and you’re forced to watch your friend struggle with grief.
You have no idea what to say to them, no way to take away the pain that you wish you could erase from existence. Maybe you have millions of swirling sentence beginnings and none of them sound right. In a military family, this reality impacts the remaining family members in all sorts of far-ranging ways.
The undeniable truth is that your friend’s parent is gone. And you have to watch them come to that realization. The pain of it could easily swallow them whole. The other undeniable truth that stretches through your entire life, before and after that terrible day, is that the Lord is present and covers you and your friend with complete love, protection, compassion, and understanding. Whether you are doubled over with helplessness and long for his arms or if you want to spit in his face with indignation, Jesus Christ accepts and receives you and every thought or feeling you have. He welcomes you completely into his love. Keep going to hear more about what the Lord has to say about death, grief, and his unending love for you.
A lot of people struggle with what to tell a grieving friend, or even how to act around them. Rather than actually relating one story for this section, we wanted to take a little different direction. If YOU have a story to tell, please let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages (connect above). Here are a few suggestions given by others who have had similar experiences
When my parents died 10 months apart the comments that I found most comforting were… I am so sorry for your loss… I can’t even imagine what you are going through… Let me help you get through this… You will be in my thoughts and prayers… I love you and am here for you. In the initial phases of grief I was annoyed with the following comments (although they were well intentional)… they are in a better place… life goes on… at least you will have memories. As long as you acknowledge the death in a compassionate way that will be good. I was hurt by some friends who didn’t acknowledge the death of my dad. I also appreciated the ones who would check in on me months after their deaths or would remember me during the holidays.
The best thing you can do is listen. That person will need to vent and blow off some steam. At the time of death, there is nothing you can say that will make a person feel better.
You don’t say anything… you sit and listen to them while they grieve. You let them cry on your shoulder. If it is someone who you hardly know, you more than likely won’t be around the person who is grieving. If you don’t really know him/her and consider them an acquaintance who you pass by every once in awhile and he/she knows you as an acquaintance, then you would say: I am so sorry for your loss. If you are in a position to comfort them because you are close to them (more than an acquaintance)… Be there… listen… listen… listen or more precisely do some active listening.
Just be there, it is all you can do. Don’t say you understand. Don’t say it will be okay. Just tell them that you are sorry for their loss, and make yourself available and listen if they need to talk.
(Story compiled from personal accounts posted on ExperienceProject.com)
This is a psalm reminding us of the great comfort that comes only from God. Reading it is a good reminder that God is always there. In our hardest times, and in our happiest times, we should turn to God. Sarah Young, author of the devotional book, Jesus Calling, believes that God urges us to:
“THANK ME for the very things that are troubling you. You are on the brink of rebellion, precariously close to shaking your fist in My Face. You are tempted to indulge in just a little complaining about My treatment for you. But once you step over that line, torrents of rage and self-pity can sweep you away. The best protection against this indulgence is thanksgiving. It is impossible to thank Me and curse Me at the same time.
Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence, which overshadows all your problems” (Young).
If we turn to God for the little things, we will automatically turn to him for the big things that occur in our lives.
Scripture: Psalm 116
- Have you ever done any of the things suggested above? If parts, which part(s)?
- Can you identify what emotions are dominant in your heart right now? If helplessness and despair are big ones for you, how do you plan to handle and process those emotions?
- Do you believe that asking God for help and comfort right now makes a difference? Is that something that is easy or hard for you to do?
- What sort of situation do you think the Psalmist (the person who wrote the psalm above) was in when he wrote that prayer to God? What did they believe about God? What were they feeling?
- How do you think faith influences your relationship with your friend? How resilient do you think you are when you face these kinds of trials that a military family goes through?
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My friend’s pain is overwhelming. The numerous thoughts and feelings I have right now are too much. I don’t know how to help them get through this. I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing. I feel many emotions right now but I’m also struggling with how to express to my friend what I’m feeling. This is too much for me to handle. I can’t do this. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this without you. Please listen to me. Please see and know all that I’m going through right now and give me the help I need. I’m so lost I don’t even really know what I need right now but please God give me your perfect peace. Keep me firm in your purpose and let me feel your presence here, now, during all of this. I am so heartbroken. I can’t do this without your guidance. Please help me.