Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to comfort those who mourn

Woman in netting....mourning...not sure

The scriptures tell us that we are to comfort those who mourn. While it might seem an easy thing to do, many people struggle with how to comfort a person who has lost a loved one. You are afraid of saying the wrong thing, of making that person even more upset, and so many times people resort to saying nothing at all. I know this because I've done this myself.

Today marks the fifth month since my Mom went to be with her Lord in heaven. I would definitely consider myself in a mourning period still. Some days are easier than others. Other days are hard...last night at the post office my children were telling the postmaster all about their Mammay and what a good cook she is. Only problem is they never mentioned that she has died. At the end the postmaster said she needed to go to their Mammay's house as she sounded like a really good cook. I choked back the words, "she's dead" and left. It felt too awkward to just blurt out as we were walking out the door that she was no longer living. I ached inside as I led my little flock of children outside.

Comforting those who mourn...what does it really look like? Does a simple "I'm sorry" at the funeral service fulfill that scripture? I've learned a lot through this whole experience, and the biggest thing I've learned is that it is so important to reach out to those who are mourning.

After my Mom passed, our church family brought us in an abundance of meals. It was a huge blessing to not worry about food. But some ladies went way above and beyond what was expected. Not only did we receive food, we were also brought paper towels, toilet paper, tissues (which were used a lot), paper plates and cups, plastic silverware, and hand soap. My sister and I were very grateful, as we were all staying together at my sister's house, and between all of us we could dirty up a lot of dishes! We had offers to let my children come and stay at friends house for the day if that would help. And most importantly, we knew that a multitude of people were praying for us.

I have a dear friend who lost her Dad several years ago. She warned me that about 2 months after the death of my Mom people would just stop asking how I was doing, and expect that I have moved on. For the most part I have found that to be true. But there have been a few dear friends who still ask once in a while how I'm doing and talk about my Mom. Those comments are a balm to my soul. One friend gave me a poem written by Fanny Crosby written about a Mother's passing which comforted me greatly. Yet another friend-the one who lost her own Dad has been someone I have been able to lean on and talk to as she has walked this path before.

The worst thing you can do is remain silent. While I know everyone grieves differently, they do not want to forget a loved one. Every day I speak about my Mom to children, just in passing conversations. I do not want them to forget her, and it helps me to talk of her.

Here is a poem by Fanny Crosby that is very fitting:

Oh! turn not from the weeping one

Whose heart is wrung with grief,

A tender look, a soothing word,

Might give that heart relief.

Nay, turn not from the weeping one,

For oh! ye little know

How bitter was the agony

That caused those tears to flow.

We are not always happiest

When we are heard to sing;

The gayest notes we warble

May thoughts of sadness bring.

The step elastic still may be,
The lip a smile impart,

And joy seem sparkling in the eye

While sorrow rends the heart.

Then turn not from the weeping one,

Whose heart with grief oppressed,

Would lose its anguish for a while

On pity’s gentle breast,

Nay, turn not from the weeping one,

For little do ye know

How bitter was the agony,

That caused those tears to flow.

Fanny Crosby



At December 16, 2010 at 12:20 PM , Blogger Kristy said...

This is so good and so very true! I lost my husband July 14th of this year. Everyone avoids me except my family and my BFF !! Thank you for this post. May it speak to the hearts of many !

At December 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM , Blogger Caroline said...


I am SO sorry to hear that you lost your husband. I have thought many times since losing my Mom how I would handle losing my husband. My heart goes out to you.

At December 16, 2010 at 4:26 PM , Blogger Mrs David W said...

Thank you so so so much for posting this!
It is so difficult to find words to say to the grieving.
My son passed away five years ago and so many of the things you described happened to me.
Especially the two month mark issue.
The Lord is faithful and as you have experienced, a few tender friends keep asking.
I now try and council others in regards to helping those that are grieving I tell them to reach out, share, tell them you are praying.
It is scary to say something when someone loses something. If you never say anything though... they will never know you care.
Praise the Lord for your courage in sharing this! I will be praying for your hearts and continued healing.

At December 17, 2010 at 11:22 AM , Blogger Ruth said...

While everyone grieves differently, grief is always the same. Unfortunately, unless someone has experienced the loss of close loved one, understanding how to comfort them can be awkward. I'm proud of you for letting others know how you feel, so that they can mourn with you. Remembering and talking was an important part of the healing process for me, too.
I remember very distinctly the last hug your mom gave me and it makes me smile every time I think of it. She was such a beautiful person.
I'm praying for you, Caroline!
Love, Ruth

At December 18, 2010 at 2:24 AM , Blogger Laurel said...

I actually pulled away from friends that would not even acknowledge more than an "I'm sorry" after my mom passed away. It really hurt, but I've come to realize that it wasn't that they didn't care, they just really didn't know what to say. I try my best now to reach out to those who are hurting. Thanks for this post. I hope it helps us that have read it to be more compassionate.

At December 21, 2010 at 1:29 PM , Anonymous Fundrea Maddias said...

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