Absolutely clueless when someone’s grieving?

There is so much being said surrounding the loss of Rick and Kay Warren’s son to suicide.  Some have expressed such compassion.  Other’s have expressed literal hate and everything in-between.  It is unbearable pain, we know that tangentially.  For anything other than complete compassion shows the depth of depravity in the world.

Our neighbor’s of over 24 years are moving away this month.  We love them dearly.  We have been through a whole lot of ‘stuff’ together.  Our kids grew up together with frequent ‘underwear parties’ in the front yard (when they were very young, duh).  There are so many memories.  They have their secret ‘fort’ buried in the holly trees, they have their climbing tree “David” which is a honeysuckle bush.  There is also the toilet tree (self-explanatory).  Those are just a few of the outdoor memories.  00000194 scan0006-1 DSCF0974 00000494 00000339 00000290 00000236 scan0003-7So many more memories filled the indoors with constant ‘excitement’ as they were in and out of each other’s home without ever knocking.  Birthday’s were always celebrated together.  There were music and magic shows and I could go on and on.  And then…

Four years ago this month our dear neighbors lost their son to suicide.  Their past 4 years have been a veritable hell.  Fours years later the wounds are still very deep, and as I have tried to process it all I have no doubt they will never completely heal.  Whenever I have entertained the thought, “they should be doing better by now” I go to the dark place of imagining “what if it happened to us?”  Just that process is so unbearable that it begins  to refill my cup of compassion & empathy.

We’ve grieved the past several years the loss of Sam’s Dad, Sam’s brother-in-law, Sam’s brother, and essentially Sam’s sister.  The loss has been great.  At times unbearable as well, but the loss of a child….  Somehow that is different.  That’s extremely heavy.  We do not grieve as though we have no hope, but we do grieve.  We are human.  Jesus WEPT.

A dear friend shared an excerpt with me today from an article called, Loss of an Adopted Child, I’ll leave you with this…

Too many grieving families discover that some of their friends, relatives, or coworkers are absolutely clueless.  Of course, there is always that well-intentioned but misguided friend who tries to make you feel better by offering their quick answer to why your tragedy happened.  We are constantly anguishing in asking why this has happened to us in the beginning, and along comes this genius who thinks he or she has the answer:  So they calmly try to reassure us that our loved one died because: 1) they are in a better place, 2) God has a plan, 3) God needed another angel, 4) the good ones die young.  A comment I have heard repeatedly that I absolutely detest, is when they say, “Well, if that ever happened to my child, they would have to bury me with them.”  What message am I supposed to draw from that? : That I don’t love my child enough because I’m still here?

It is easy to criticize these folks, how could they really know what to say?  We SHOULD try to give them some credit because at least they genuinely want to help us. They just don’t know how.  Very few of us were experts on the intricacies of grief, until these terrible tragedies burst through our own front doors.

     These people may seem awkward and say things that offend our very raw emotions and sensitivities, but at least they care enough to worry about us.  It is not easy to be the true friend of a grieving mom and dad, a grieving sibling, or a grieving grandparent.  We grew up with a woman who has tried to be there for her best friend, who lost her 21 year old son.  She shared with us how frustrated she gets sometimes, because she is constantly being corrected by her grieving friend for saying or doing the wrong thing.  But she understands how important it is that she keeps trying because someone she cares about is deeply hurting.  So she does her best to learn to say and do things that offer true comfort and support to her bereaved friend.  That really is the measure of a true friend.

Lord, help me to be in the business of being a true friend.

~Ciao, Ann



About along the journey

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