Updated: Apr 2, 2021
As a Jesus follower, we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
Sounds pretty simple, but the mourning part can actually be quite difficult.
I often hear people say that they’re heartbroken for a friend, family or coworker who is going through something tragic, but they simply don’t know how to help.
Here are the 5 ways that a believer can be there for someone who is grieving.
1. The first step goes before anything else and it’s this: The ministry of presence. It is so easy to want to take someone’s grief away by fixing it, or convincing them that there is a bright side.
When we try to talk people out of their grief, we end up making them feel very invalidated.
So, before you do anything else, just to be there.
Typically people aren’t looking for you to fix their grief, in fact they know you can’t. But in the depths of grief it’s very comforting to know that someone else is choosing to sit with them in the darkness, and that their grief isn’t too much for them.
Your presence can mean more than you know.
2. Stay away from pep talks initially. Refrain from the “God has a plan for you”, “He is going to use this“ or “you will be stronger through this.”
Although these all are true, when someone is newly in grief, your encouragement could make them feel like they can’t be honest with their sadness, and they might feel the need to pretend to be okay.. even if they aren’t.
Try phrases like. “I’m here for you.” “Let yourself feel what you need to.” “Let me know how I can support you and walk with you through this.”
3. Pray for them. I am a firm believer that the power of prayer changes things. Pray big prayers of healing for your friend.
And when they are ready for you to, pray over them. Allow God’s truths to sink into their weary souls.
Sometimes people are more open to being prayed for over a pep talk, because it’s in prayer that we are inviting the presence of God into the situation. It can be incredibly powerful.
And *remember*, you don’t need to pray a perfect prayer!! Holy Spirit will do the work on their heart in the way only Holy Spirit can.
4. Consistently keep showing up for them, and ask them what they need. Know that their needs might change. That’s how grief works.
Some days they may just want you to help distract them. Great, go to the mall together. Some days they may want you to sit on the couch and cry together. Grab the tissues.
Other days they may want to dive into conversation about their grief.
They may want to look at old pictures. They may need help getting rid of stuff that is a constant reminder of their loss.
With grief, everyday, heck every hour, can feel so different.
5. Don’t try to heal them. Trying to heal someone’s pain will lead to burnout. You may even end up resenting them because you’ve poured so much time and effort into them, but couldn’t fix them.
Fixing should not be the goal. You can’t. Take all that pressure off of you.
But you can keep showing up, and pointing them back to the healer.. who will do the work you and I cannot.
Here’s the thing, if you read this, we already know you are a good friend or family member because you care.
Someday looking back at their grief journey, they may not remember all the words you said but they will remember you being there.
They will remember your caring and loving presence.
You could literally change a life just by being near.
Never ever doubt that the Lord can use you just by bringing you into someone else’s pain.
~Kelli Bachara, The Unraveling Blog