New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 63

   4. Encourage Externalization of Grief Let someone know that it is okay to cry. (Actually, big boys do cry.) But also realize that crying is not the only way that people grieve. The individual may not be a crier. Maybe they need to have a punching bag installed in their basement because some people need a physical energy release of some other kind. Try to encourage that, if it is their way. People may need to write down their ideas, just talk with you, or do a ritual of some sort that has special meaning to them. 5. Be Available - Listen It is helpful to be there to listen – not just being a warm body, but being there emotionally for the person. If you also are sad over the loss of this person cry with them. Don’t assume that someone wants you to hold them if they are crying. They may not want to be touched. It is best if we can ask something like, “How can I be supportive? Would you like me to hold you?” 6. Assist in Practical and Concrete Ways - Be Specific in Offers to Help We are all probably most familiar with the Mourner’s Buffet. That is, when someone dies many people will bring over a dish of food for the family. We may scoff at this but actually it is one of the most important things we can do to help. People who are grieving will often not have the energy to cook, clean, shop, or even eat. Grieving is a very draining process and people need to keep up their strength. So helping in very tangible ways like this is extremely useful. We may not really know what to say at these times, but helping this way says a lot. Someone who is grieving may not know what they need so when asking if you can help try to be specific. For example, “Can I take care of the children for the afternoon for you?” “Could I make dinner for you tonight?” “Can I go shopping for you?” “Can I clean up the kitchen and bathrooms for you or do the laundry?” These are extremely helpful things that we may not always think of, but they will not go unappreciated. The death of a loved one is a very difficult time. We have the opportunity to be of use in very tangible ways at a time like this. Just because someone doesn’t ask for help doesn’t mean they don’t need it. As a church we have beautiful teachings to support people at this difficult time. But we also have wonderful people who can support one another in meaningful and helpful ways. The most important thing is to be available to each other at these times emotionally, physically and practically. Contact: 129