When You're Faced with Responding to Grief
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving. Whether it's grief over the loss of a parent or spouse or child, or a miscarriage or stillbirth, it is tough knowing what to say in any case of loss. And everyone, at some point, will know someone who is grieving.
I think our most natural response to grief involves words that try to make sense of the situation, to offer reasons behind the loss. And while those words are always from the best places in our heart, there is no way to reason away, or even make sense of grief. We can’t take away the pain and the grief, and our words need to reflect that.
But what then, can be offered to the person you want to know that, as they are hurting, you are hurting with them? Just that. That you're sorry. That you care. That you hurt for them. I don't think you can push grief along. I don't think you can reason it or explain it. It takes its own course, and doesn't look the same on everyone. It's deep, and runs into the places of your heart that you didn't know existed. And you have to live fully present it. You have to breath it in, with all of its pain, to be able to walk out on the other side, moving forward. Grief runs a swerved, hilly, non-mappable route through the life of the griever, and your words of care never missed the mark.
Personally, most of the grief I've experienced comes from walking through three lost pregnancies. I imagine I've heard almost every response out there to lost pregnancies. And having people--good, sweet people--tell me "there was something wrong with the baby" or "it just wasn't meant to be" never helped my heart or made my grief easier. If anything, I felt like I needed to hide my grief because it was now explainable.
Oh friends, as you walk along someone who is grieving, as uncomfortable and unfun and maybe even awkward as it might be, let them grieve. Offer them your support and your broken heart and the knowledge that you are there, no matter how long their grief sticks around. When you are searching for a response, don't underestimate the power of simple words. "I am so sorry for your loss." Those words do wonders for the grieving heart. It's like getting the best hug on your worst day. No reasons or explaining; just a simple "my heart hurts for you." However long their path takes them to come out on the other side, offering words that let's you come along side them is caring; so, so caring.