When Others Grieve
By Steve Goodier
People should never have to suffer loss alone. Yet, how do you
comfort those who hurt? I think that offering genuine comfort to
another is one of the most important things we can do for others.
And sometimes one of the most difficult.
Experts tell us, among other things, to simply say, "I'm sorry"
or "I love you." They warn us against trying explain away the
death or loss; against theologizing or philosophizing about it.
Often, the less said, the better, so long as you are present, you
care and you listen.
American poet Edgar Guest told of a neighbor by the name of Jim
Potter. Mr. Potter ran the drug store in the neighborhood where
Edgar Guest lived. Their relationship was cordial, if not deep.
Mostly they smiled and exchanged greetings when they happened to
see one another.
One tragic night the poet's first-born child died. He felt
crushed and overcome with grief. Several days after the death,
Guest had reason to go to the drug store run by his neighbor.
When he entered, Jim Potter motioned for him to come behind the
"Eddie," he said, "I really can't express to you the great
sympathy that I have for you at this time. All I can say is that
I am terribly sorry, and if you need for me to do anything, you
can count on me."
Many years later Edgar Guest reflected on that encounter. He
said, "Just a person across the way -- a passing acquaintance.
Jim Potter may have long since forgotten that moment when he
extended his hand to me in sympathy, but I shall never forget it
-- never in all my life. To me it stands out like the silhouette
of a lonely tree against a crimson sunset."
As the poet thought back to that unhappy time, one vivid memory
of a brief and genuine moment of comfort still lingered years
later. It was a moment that meant everything to a grieving
Those who comfort others bring no less than a piece of heaven to
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