Without hesitation, I confess that when I discover something that has a positive impact on my life; I talk about it often. I’m eager for others to embrace the benefits, too. Things that add value to our lives must be shared.
While life holds many joys, we can also count on experiencing deep sorrow. Grief and loss are frequent companions in life.
It’s true that each person’s grief journey is unique to them. The deeper the relationship, the greater the pain of loss. Agitating it further, grief often feels like a very lonely experience.
Loneliness can derail even the most emotionally stable person when thrown into the desolate wilderness of grief. It’s possible for a griever to be surrounded by people at work, at home, and in a faith community and yet feel utterly alone.
If others seem indifferent to their loss, a griever often feels invisible. When no one mentions their missed loved one by name, a griever can feel forgotten. If no one is kindly curious about their grief, they may feel ignored.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Would it surprise you if I told you that having even one genuinely caring person on the grief journey can erase loneliness?
Your grieving friend needs YOU. Yes, you!
When someone feels their burden of loss is suffocating, every friend who compassionately shows up is like oxygen to their soul. It’s life-giving.
When grief overwhelmed me and I didn’t think I’d make it till tomorrow, I experienced renewed hope as friends surrounded me with empathy. They made sure I knew I wasn’t alone. In their own way, each one lent me their hope and strength when I couldn’t find mine.
If stepping into someone’s grief journey makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re in good company. For most of us, we feel uncertain. We don’t want to compound the loss by saying or doing something that is not helpful.
Tutored by the examples of my caring friends—Hope Heroes—I’ve discovered 4 positive steps we can take with a person experiencing grief:
1. Listen 2. Acknowledge the Loss 3. Pray 4. Patiently be Present
And then, repeat, repeat, and repeat.
If you adopt these steps, you will spare your grieving friends the debilitating effects of loneliness. Not only will they gain emotional strength and hope through your expressions of empathy, but medical studies show physical benefits as well.
Well before the pandemic, British surveys revealed that 1 in 5 people suffered from loneliness and isolation. Grief only exasperates this problem. Even more so in the pandemic.
Did you know that in 2018, the UK’s Prime Minister appointed a minister for loneliness to develop strategies to ease the issues causing millions of people to feel lonely?
The adverse effects of loneliness are taking a costly toll on society.
While I applaud the British government’s focus to tackle a universal problem affecting their citizens, we all have an important role to play. Our collective efforts as Hope Heroes in every country will have the most transformational impact worldwide.
Our motivation and purpose
If your motivation to love and care for the lonely, grieving person in your life needs a re-boot, consider Jesus’ words in John 13:34,35 NLT
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
When we remember how loved we are by God, it compels us to love others. It’s our meaningful purpose.
A tragic loss
Last week, I received a call that everyone dreads. It made me cry. The 30-year-old son of a long-time friend died in his apartment. An autopsy report will take months to reveal the cause of death. It is a mystery. Everything about this untimely loss feels grossly unfair, tragic and yet familiar to me.
Details differ from my devastating loss, but my heartbroken friend and I now share something else in common. We struggle to imagine the future without our precious sons.
Starting with a text, I reached out to the grieving mom. This led to a tearful patio visit at her home.
As I glanced over my friend’s expansive backyard, my mind quickly recalled the summers when my son Jordan mowed the massive lawn while our friends vacationed. Flashbacks of our kiddos playing together years ago made us smile. Although our times together are now infrequent, we have decades of history together.
As my grieving friend shared precious memories of her son’s last few days, love for her boy was undeniable. The crushing ache of her heart was as well.
I’ll be honest and confess. If my Hope Heroes (caring grief companions) hadn’t taught me—by their example—how to BE with someone who is mourning, I would have felt ill at ease with my grieving friend. Even with lived experience, I could feel a twinge of nervousness. So I reminded myself of the very things I tell others. Do the L.A.P.P. Listen. Acknowledge the loss. Pray. Patiently be Present.
When asked how I dealt with certain realities of Jordan’s death, I shared candidly but attempted to be brief. Oh, the temptation to talk about my loss at length was a gravitational pull I had to resist. I have learned the hard way. It’s never ok to make it about me when I’m coming alongside a grieving friend. I’m there to love and validate my friend’s loss as worthy of my empathy and compassion.
What will you do when you receive the news that your friend has lost someone precious to them?
Will you respond?
I’d like to help. With a desire to equip you with simple ideas that you can launch you into action, I’ve developed an online course.
Hope Heroes—a framework for sharing hope with the broken-hearted is a course that is relevant for any kind of loss. It will give you courage and caring strategies.
Get started today! Click here: Hope Hero Course
No one should have to grieve alone. Everyone needs a caring Hope Hero—a grief companion—in their life.
The key to our personal growth is not only receiving information but taking action. To celebrate your choice to purchase the Hope Heroes course before July 30, I will send you 2 FREE copies of The Little Black Funeral Dress for you to gift to grieving friends.
Through the course, I will help you experience the deeply satisfying role of a being a Hope Hero. And soon you will confess to the remarkable benefits that come back to bless you.
Cheering you on,
P.S. Watch for my 6 short video clips on 100 Huntley Street aired in July. Each one tackles a question related to grief. Here’s one: Topic: Things to avoid saying to a grieving person