How To Help a Grieving Friend

Written December 2, 2010… ( there are a series of entries w/this one)

A dear friend who has been so sweet in wanting to love on us in our grief sent a link to this blog to me today.  It was really helpful for me for several reasons.  First off, it made me feel “understood”…like I wasn’t crazy or wrong in how I’m doing.  It brought tears to my eyes as it was also a sweet reminder of how many people have indeed done such a good job at helping us through this process.  I thought it might be helpful to you as well because…

1. Many people have actually said things like ‘I don’t know how to be a good friend to you right now.” or “What do you need from me?”  or “How can I help you?  I don’t know if you don’t tell me.”  Though maybe not all of the posts in the blog pertain to our situation, much of it is how I would answer those questions.

2. For those of you who have been through some kind of loss, hopefully you can find some kind of comfort in these words as I did when you feel anything but understood or “normal”.  If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling some sort of guilt that you should just be “over it” by now or that you’re not further along in the healing process.  You’re NOT alone.

3. I thought of the times before losing our baby when I clumsily tried to help grieving friends.  It was a good reminder that those friends STILL need encouragement and comfort…and reminders that they’re not forgotten or alone.  I want and NEED to be a better friend in that way.

Please understand my heart in posting this blog.  I never never never want to come across as over dramatic and needy…or wanting more attention or pity.  I even hesitated to do it as my heart quickly filled with lies like “It’s so selfish of you to keep talking about yourself and your needs”…”Your pain isn’t as great as hers, so you shouldn’t have as hard of a time getting over it”…”People will think you’re a mess and can’t pull it together”…or the whopper: “God would be more glorified through you if you could say that you were fine.”  All lies that I”m fighting even right at this moment.

I simply want to be honest.

Am I walking away from the Lord because of my sadness?  Absolutely not.  Have I had to wrestle, question, and beg to feel Him?  Most certainly.  I am clinging to Him for dear life, savoring my time in His Word, and want to really know Him more than ever.  I trust that He’s good…but life’s still hard.

Am I in despair and crying all of the time a month and a half after losing our baby?  No.  Do I think about it almost constantly and cry at least once at some point during most days? Yes.  Reality has set in along w/a deep sadness and constant ache for our baby.  We are healing and completely confident that we’ll see our baby again, but it still hurts…and I think it always will.

Am I back to myself yet?  Nope.  Probably won’t ever totally will be.  Does that mean my personality is drastically changed and that I don’t enjoy life?  No.  How can you live w/my husband and NOT laugh at least once a day?  How can you look at the face of my sweet little boy, listening to the funny things he says and not be overwhelmed with joy?  How can I look at the blessings in my life and the faithfulness of my God and not be thankful?  I’m still me…just a different me that feels SO different some times.  I’ve been marked by grief.  But, my loving Father is chipping away parts of me that aren’t pleasing to Him and shaping me into something that hopefully looks more like His Son.  I don’t think I WANT to go back to “myself”.

Am I hiding from real life and refusing to engage in other people’s lives?  Definitely not.  Do I cherish my time alone w/the Lord and at home w/my family more than ever?  Yes, yes, yes.  I hate that I’ve had to back off of a lot of the “normal” things I’ve been involved in, but I can only handle so much at a time right now or I crash hard.  I still LOVE people and ache for time w/them, but am discovering a new part of me that craves time by myself which is totally new to me (but good and necessary and something that I should have always done more of).

We’ve struggled a little more lately as the holidays have brought reminders that this is not at all how we pictured life being.  Our family is not complete…and we deeply miss someone we never fully knew. Aching for memories that never made it from dreams to reality.  I often struggle with just wanting to hold the baby again and longer than I did…examine its features more closely…have something tangible to hold on to.  Its difficult to motivate myself to get my body back to pre-pregnancy shape when I don’t have a baby in my arms, so even getting dressed or exercising is sometimes a reminder of what we’ve lost.  I made it to church every Sunday since coming home from the hospital, but all of the sudden I wasn’t able to make it through more than 15 minutes of Sunday School last week and couldn’t pull it together enough to come into the worship service.  I LOVE that in the blog she says, “Grief is not necessarily linear.”  Contrary to popular belief, not every day gets “a little bit easier”.  Some times I feel like I’ve taken 3 steps forward, only to drop back 3 more and then back up 2…sometimes all w/in the same hour!  I even confuse myself.

All that said, I posted the blog because it’s really complicated to communicate exactly how I’m doing.  Maybe that’s why Paul said he was “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”  We’ve found a place where joy and sorrow meet…at the feet of Jesus.  We’re praying that we can continue to use this experience to get to know His heart better and be willing to accept whatever He brings, cherishing Him more than life.  Know that this is our prayer for you as well.


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