Comforting Those Who Mourn

Image result for comforting a bereaved friendHave you ever felt helpless when someone near to you was grieving over the loss of a loved one? Sometimes we may feel unsure of what to say or do—so we wind up saying and doing nothing. But there are practical, helpful things that we can do.

Often, all that is needed is your presence along with a simple expression, such as “I am so sorry.” In many cultures, giving the person a hug or a gentle squeeze of the arm is an effective way to show you care. If the bereaved one wants to talk, listen sympathetically. Best of all, do something for the bereaved family, perhaps performing a chore the grieving one has not been able to care for, such as cooking a meal, caring for the children, or helping with funeral arrangements if that is desired. Such actions may speak louder than the most eloquent words.

In time, you may be moved to talk about the deceased, perhaps focusing on some good qualities or happy experiences. Such conversation may even bring a smile to the bereaved person’s face. For example, Pam—who lost her husband, Ian, six years ago—says: “People sometimes tell me good  things that Ian did that I never knew about, and that makes my heart feel good.”

Researchers report that many bereaved people receive a lot of initial help but that their needs are soon forgotten as friends get busy again with their own lives. Therefore, make a point of contacting a bereaved friend on a regular basis after the loss. Many grieving ones deeply appreciate this opportunity to relieve themselves of prolonged feelings of grief.

Consider the example of Kaori, a young Japanese woman who was devastated by the loss of her mother followed by the loss of her older sister 15 months later. Thankfully, she received ongoing support from loyal friends. One named Ritsuko is much older than Kaori and offered to be her close friend. “To be honest,” says Kaori, “I wasn’t happy about that. I didn’t want anyone to take the place of my mother, and I didn’t think that anyone could. However, because of the way Mama Ritsuko treated me, I came to feel close to her. Every week, we went out in the evangelizing work together and went to Christian meetings together. She invited me to have tea with her, brought me meals, and wrote me letters and cards many times. Mama Ritsuko’s positive attitude had a good influence on me.”

To be sure, there are many ways we can offer practical help and comfort to those who mourn. The Bible also comforts us by means of a thrilling hope for the future.

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