I went to visit a friend last night. She has just lost someone she was very close to. It was unexpected and sad. She’s absolutely devastated and heartbroken. I had never met the person she was mourning but my own heart hurt just seeing my friend in pain.
It’s hard to watch those we love suffer. It’s difficult for us to not know what to say or what to do to help alleviate someone’s grief and pain.
I want to share with you just a few things that you CAN do to help someone during their time of sadness and grief:
The first, just love them. Love them how they need to be loved. Some people need lots and lots of attention and time. Others need to be alone but want to know you’re close by if ever they needed a friend. Some want to just be held as they cry. Others don’t want any sympathy. What does this person need from you? Can you love them how they need to be loved?
Second, know it’s supposed to hurt. Sometimes we’re too quick to offer consolation and comfort in attempts to try and make them feel better. We want them to be happy again. But what we need to realize is that it’s supposed to hurt. We’re not supposed to feel better…YET. We wouldn’t want to. Our bodies want to mourn them. It’s cleansing and healing. We’re too quick to try and cancel the emotion or try to get to happiness again but what we really need to do is let the grief come, feel it, let it stay as long as it needs to and then it will subside and you’ll feel the warmth of happiness again. But we just need to sit with the emotion and feel it. It’s supposed to hurt and if given the choice – we really wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s in the contrast – the good and the bad that allows us to feel so deeply. That because we’ve experienced loss, we can appreciate all the more the joy and loves in our life. Let it stay. Be willing to feel it and grieve.
Third, help them separate the cleansing thoughts and pain from the unnecessary thoughts that cause pain. Cleansing pain is healing. It’s the thoughts that, “I really love them and I’m going to miss them. My life is not going to be the same without them.” – this is acknowledging that yes, it does hurt. We’re sad because we love them so much and yes, my life isn’t going to be the same and it’ll be okay. This pain hurts but it is cleansing and will help heal. It’ll help you progress and keep moving forward through the grief.
VERSUS, “I’m so sad. I can’t go on without them. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. If only I would have told them _____________ or done __________________. I should have loved them more. I should have ______________. It’s because of me that _____________.” These are unnecessary thoughts that cause pain. These thoughts will keep you stuck and add more pain and grief to an already painful process. Steer clear of the shoulda’s and coulda’s. They are not cleansing. They stem from scarcity and fear. Cleansing pain stems from love and the sadness that comes because we’re going to miss them but that missing is only temporary.
We’re supposed to experience grief, loss, and pain. It’s a huge part of our mortal journey. But we can also know this time of separation is only temporary. It won’t be forever.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf* said:
“In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.”
These times of grief can sometimes feel so intense and all encompassing that it’s hard to remember that you’re in a tunnel and not a cave. It’s hard to see the light at the end but we know that we are meant to continue moving forward, progressing, learning, and loving. We are not mortal beings – we are eternal beings, without end. These times are supposed to hurt – it’s one way that we know how deeply we loved. We also know that these times are just mere interruptions, pauses that will “one day seem small compared to the ETERNAL JOY” that awaits us.
Let us love those who are hurting. Let us “mourn with them that mourn” by loving them, helping them to go through their dark tunnel and helping them find the light again. Help them to remember that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to hurt. It’s supposed to hurt right now. Let us help them separate cleansing pain and unnecessary pain. Let us remind them that these separations are only temporary pauses and that we will see them again. Hug them, love them, and be there for them.