By Steve Goodier
What do you say to someone who is grieving? ("Other than that, Mrs.
Lincoln, how did you like the play?" probably tops the list of the
kinds of conversation starters that should be avoided.) And
actually, there are a lot of ways we can go wrong here -- saying
something that isn't appreciated by one who hurts. Even when we are
trying to comfort.
But chances are, we have been, or will be, put in the position of
trying to comfort someone who is experiencing a painful loss. That
is an important role we all play from time to time. So, what do you
say to someone who is grieving?
I often remember a story told by Joseph Bayly when I struggle to say
the "right thing" to someone who is hurting. Mr. Bayly lost three
children to death over the course of several years. He wrote a book
called VIEW FROM A HEARSE, in which he talks about his grief. He
says this about comforting those who grieve:
"I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God's
dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He said
things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he would go
away. He finally did. Someone else came and sat beside me. He didn't
talk. He didn't ask leading questions. He just sat with me for an
hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly,
prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see
I have found Joseph Bayly's experience to be excruciatingly typical.
Both men wanted to help. Both men cared. But only one truly
comforted. The difference was that one tried to make him feel
better, while the other just let him feel. One tried to say the
right things. The other listened. One told him it would be all
right. The other shared his pain.
When put in the difficult position of comforting someone in
emotional pain, sometimes what needs to be said can be said best
with a soft touch or a listening ear. No words. And though at times
the quieter approach has felt inadequate to me, I have come to
realize that it can make a bigger difference than I may ever know.
Publisher@LifeSupportSystem.com is a professional
speaker, consultant and author of numerous books. Visit his site for
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Love and Laughter at http://LifeSupportSystem.com