My last post was about our first baby, who died in utero. From our experience, here are some ideas about how to help someone who is experiencing loss.
- Don’t say too much. Your grieving friend wants to know that you care about them, that you hurt for them, and that you’re eager to help however you can. At least initially, they don’t need your advice. Planning a time to talk with them and listen to their story would be more helpful and loving if you waited a few weeks or months. To us, it was encouraging to hear that someone was grieving with us several months (or even a few years) later, when we felt alone.
- Don’t ask for instructions. Offering to help is very kind. Actually helping is even more kind. Order a pizza to be delivered to your friend’s house and pay for it over the phone with your credit card. Bring them food (freezable) in a container that they don’t need to wash and return.
- Don’t create more work for them. See above about washing your food container. If you are able to serve them in some way, demand that they don’t write a thank-you note.
- Do encourage them. Sending a note, card, or email to express your love is great. Focus on the fact that you care and that their loss hurts you, too. A friend told me, with tears in his eyes, “We just want you to know that when you hurt, we hurt.” I really felt loved by that. He didn’t give me advice or try to defend God’s providence, he just cared.
- Do pray for them. And tell them. God has a treasure of promises for His children when they experience pain. Pray these promises for your friend and send them an email or text saying so.
- Do give them time. Your friend needs to hear about the goodness of God and the hope of the Gospel in the face of all kinds of pain, but they need it in the right way at the right time. Ask God what you should share and when you should share it. If you find an encouraging poem, song, article, or book- even especially if it is months or years down the road- share it with them. For some reason, knowing that people still think about our baby and grieve with us, that’s a deep blessing.
There is so much more that could be said, but this is my shooting-from-the-hip list. We are thankful that God gave us friends and family who cared back then and still care today.
The Lord is good and does good. (Psalm 119:68)
Thanks for reading.