“I want to help my friend who is grieving a significant loss, but I’m at a loss. That is I don’t know quite what to say to help my friend.”
You might find helpful the June 17, 2013 blog from Chaplain Nick Braschler helpful. In that article Chaplain Nick quotes Warren Wiersbe,
“It is a remarkable thing that some of the most optimistic and enthusiastic people you will meet are those who have been through intense suffering.”
“I want to help my friend who is grieving a significant loss, but I’m at a loss. When I try to help, my own loss gets in my way.” Some of us have found that when we try to help others in their grief, some of our own grief rises to the surface. It is true that in order to help others through their grief, we need to adequately deal with our own grief issues and with our own “grief history.” “Wow, didn’t realize I have a grief history”…you might be thinking. We do, everything that is in our past is our history. Stuffed grief really does rear its head at the most inopportune times, and it can easily become “Grief Baggage” that we carry around with us.
May I suggest taking the survey that H. Norman Wright developed with William Worden? Answer the questions,then spend some time reflecting on your answers with a friend or colleague.It can pay dividends later in helping make us more effective in our work of helping others through the grief process.
1. The first death I can remember was the death of ___________________________.
2. I was age _____.
3. The feelings I can remember having at that time were _______________________.
4. The first funeral (other ritual service) I ever attended was for _________________.
5. I was age _____.
6. The thing I most remember about that experience is ________________________
7. My most recent loss by death was (person, time, and circumstances) __________ _________________________________________________________________________
8. I coped with this loss by _______________________________________________.
9. The most difficult death for me was the death of ____________________________.
10. It was difficult because __________________________________________________
11. Of the important people in my life who are now living, the most difficult for me would be the death of ___________________________________________________________________.
12. It would be the most difficult because ______________________________________
13. My primary style of coping with loss is ______________________________________.
14. I know my own grief is resolved when _______________________________________.
15. It is appropriate for me to share my own experiences of grief with a counselee when ___________________________________________________________________________.
As your Chaplains, Nick, Frank and I stand ready to help you and yours to work through these issues. We have no magic wands. We cannot grieve for you, nor will we attempt to take your grief from you. However, You Don’t Have To Do This Alone. You might want to find your own way through your own grief, but we are willing to walk with you as you grieve.
While I feel no pressure at all to include scripture in these articles, I feel compelled to do so today. The verse that I have chosen to accompany this article is also the shortest verse in the Bible. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”
Even though Jesus knew that He could and would raise Lazarus from the dead, as he stood with Mary and Martha at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept. He wept, showing His love for Lazarus and his sisters. Mary and Martha did not grieve alone, Jesus wept with them. I can do that too. You can too. Weep with those who weep, but grieve your own losses adequately so you can be there for your friend.
My prayer today is …
God, thank you for making us a team just as you did in Jesus’ day. Even Your Son needed Lazarus, Martha and Mary as a part of His team. Thank you that you allow us to see how the loss of one of Jesus’ team members affected Him when Lazarus died. Thank you that you allow us to get rid of our own baggage so that we can be there for the rest of the team. Help me Lord to be the right team member, at the right time. And God, please help those team members who are hurting today….Amen.