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How to comfort a grieving person without hurting them

I experienced loss last year. Several close friends – all of them first time moms – lost their first born babies while my wife lost her dad in 2016. Spending time with my wife, and my friends, revived the experiences I went through when I lost my dad when I was 12 years old.

Through it all, I have come to learn the following lessons on how to comfort a grieving person without worsening things.

Lesson 1: Don’t try to level the ground

Because every person doesn't respond the same way to loss, saying “I understand what you’re going through…” even if you've experienced the same thing in the past isn't a good thing. Neither is sharing advice and describing your past painful experience.

If you must say anything at all, then saying “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” will suffice.

Lesson 2: Offer the gift of silence

If you can embrace, hug or hold hands – do so – without saying anything. Remember, they have heard enough already silence may be the best gift you can ever give in a hurting situation.

Lesson 3: Use your talent to offer practical help

When you operate in your gifting and talent, your help becomes authentic and practical. By taking care of specific things, you enable a grieving person to regain a sense of perspective.

If you enjoy baking, bake the best cake and drop it off. If it is a mother who has lost an infant, offer to drop and pick her from the numerous doctors’ appointments she may have to make during her physical healing process.

You can also offer to do laundry, clean the house, wash dirty utensils or pay utility bills such as water, electricity or rent.

Lesson 4: Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit

As Christians, we should not apply Scripture casually. Doing so may end up worsening things. We should therefore, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for comforting verses to share. This will empower us to be able to effectively meet the needs of a grieving person.

In Conclusion

May the Holy Spirit empower you to know the right thing to do and say to a grieving person during their time of loss, pain and grief.

Feel free to read the whole article here and let me know what else can be added to the list. If you are experiencing grief right now, feel free to contact me for prayers and let me know how I may be of further help. May this article be a comforting blessing the way it has been to me!

Recommended reading on grief

  • Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After – PeggySue Wells

  • Counselling for Grief and Bereavement – Geraldine M. Humphrey and David G. Zimpfer

  • I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye – Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair

  • Through a Season of Grief – Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard

  • Grieving Mindfully – Sameet M. Kumar

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares,”

Henri J.M. Nouwen

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