grieving-friendsWhen someone is going through a devastating loss such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job, or any major change that affects normal routines, the feelings of grief can be overwhelming. Grief can hit us like a tidal wave, or numb us like a stagnant pool of freezing water. How can we help others move through times of significant loss, when change comes uninvited into their lives?

When we ourselves are grieving, sometimes the only thing we do is sit and feel miserable, waiting patiently for a new feeling or thought to motivate us. Even if we are in the habit of doing anything to avoid the feeling, deep down we know the pain is looming in every corner of our being.

When we are emotionally in pain, just as with a physical pain, it is hard to get anything done. At the time we need help the most, we are most unable to ask for it. Understanding this, if you know someone going through tough times, you might want to offer some help. Be specific about things you could do for them, because they may not be thinking clearly.

Talking to a friend, I learned that a family we both know is going through the recent death of their father, and now a sister has just found out she has a terminal illness.

We started saying things like, “Oh, how terrible” and “I feel so bad for them” and “I wonder what anyone can do for them. How are they going to get through this?” Just as I was about to change the subject because we were both starting to feel really bad, my friend said, “Let’s do something to help, even if it’s a couple of little things.” We made a list of helpful actions such as getting groceries, making a dinner, doing the laundry. We decided she would call this week and I would call the next.

When friends are going through devastating times, it’s good to remember they may not ask for what they need. A small act of service can let them know they’re loved and not alone. Small things done with great love can make a big difference!