When my husband died, I’ll admit that I quickly tired of people saying to me, “If you need anything, call me.”
While most people were well-intentioned, others didn’t really know what to say. But hearing people say this annoyed and aggravated me. While there was never any chance of me picking up the phone and reaching out to them, I also knew they were not sitting by the phone waiting for my call.
But what really touched my heart were the people who reached out to me, on their own. Whether it was a phone call just to say I’m thinking of you, or a knock at the door from some thoughtful friend delivering a sack of groceries. This touched my heart and lifted my spirits, more than you can imagine. I knew these people cared about what I was going through.
We often don’t know what to say to a person who’s lost a loved one. But there is something to be said about being sympathetic and empathetic. This lets the grieving person know that you care, and that she is not alone in this.
Is there a widow in your community, or church, whom you have never reached out to? Today would be a great day to reach out to her, in love and sincerity. Your kindness means a lot to those who are grief-stricken. It brings joy and comfort to know that people care. You don’t need to be able to relate to show genuine concern.
Widows are precious in God’s eyes. He defends the widow and the orphan – those who are the most vulnerable in our society. Share God’s love today with a grieving friend.
How to comfort a widow.
Offer a hug. A hug can say more than words ever can. Great comfort is provided when a caring friend offers a shoulder to cry on.
Offer a hand. Responsibilities continue to pile up, and become overwhelming. Do some light housekeeping, or better yet, provide a gift certificate for cleaning services for a few weeks. Take the kids for an afternoon to give her a breather. Show up at her door with a hot meal, or pick up a few items from the supermarket. Mow the grass or provide lawn care services. Freeing a grieving person of these tedious chores, even for a short period of time, takes a lot of weight off their shoulders.
Offer financial support. Take up a collection at church to help alleviate some of the immediate financial pressures, or to help with the funeral costs.
Don’t turn away. Grief isn’t pretty. No one wants to be there. But a true friend is willing to “grieve” along with you. God forbid the roles were reversed; you would want someone there for you.
And finally, give her time to grieve. Don’t try and rush the process. Sometimes, people are uncomfortable with the ugliness of grief, and, therefore, try and encourage them to “get over it.” “Move on.” “Find someone new.” Grief takes time, and is different for every person. Some grieve longer than others. But everyone deserves to grieve in his or her own time, and at his or her own pace. We all have an internal voice that tells us when it’s time to move on. We should learn to listen to this voice.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
If you tell a grieving person that you are there for them, and that they can call you any time, be prepared to back it up.
Once, I took a chance and reached out to a friend. I was feeling down in the dumps and needed someone to talk to. But this friend blew me off. She seemed disinterested, and gave me the impression that I was bothering her. I never reached out to this “friend” again.
People who aren’t grieving can quickly tire of those who are in the throes of grief. Grief can appear to be a dump-and-go, with the grieving person dumping all of their emotions on you.
But I’m reminded of Job’s friends. They were willing to stay down in the dumps with him, and share in his grief. They were willing to offer comfort and have an open dialogue with Job about what he was going through. None of Job’s friends had any concrete answers to why he was going through the things he was going through. Nevertheless, they stayed there with him and shared in his pain.
God is like a caring friend. When everyone else walks away, He remains with us to provide comfort. He walks with us through the fire, and loves us back to life. And the life He gives us is full of joy and contentment. He’s that kind of God.
Father, we thank you for loving us and caring about the things we go through. You are not a far-away God. You are near us, and in us, actively involved in our daily lives. You care about the things we care about and your presence is sustenance to the hurting soul. There’s always room in your heart for one more … one more hurting soul, one more beggared, one more widow, one more orphan. We thank you for being a God who is open to all.
(Note: This is a 3-part article. This article is Part 2 of 3)
Jeanita Jinnah is a Christian writer and the author of the book for widows: Step Out of the Shadows (For Widows Only!!!)™. Available in paperback and ebook – anywhere books are sold.
Jeanita was widowed at the age of 31 when she lost her husband to cancer. She offers encouragement to widows everywhere through her writings, and in sharing her story of love, loss, and spiritual healing.
This article first appeared on naylawriters.com; onourway2heaven.com; and linkedin.com.