Missteps in timing have costly effects

Clock representing missteps in timing

“Timing is everything.” You’ve often heard this phrase. It’s important to take action at just the right time, but when is that?

Whether it’s saving money, delivering the punch line of a joke or playing an instrument, timing matters.

Sometimes, missteps in timing have costly effects.

BIG Hair

Decades ago in the ‘90’s it was popular to have big hair. Do you remember?

Every few months, I had a perm. The fumes were dreadful, the process long, and the sticky solution that would seep down my neck despite the protective cotton to soak it up.

Because of my desired goal—big, soft curls—I tolerated the inconvenience of perms. At all costs, tight, frizzy ringlets were to be avoided.

For my hair type, only a few minutes made the difference between nice or nasty. If too much time passed with perm chemicals, there were dire consequences—breakage and fried hair. Recovering from a bad perm was a long, miserable, and regrettable experience.

For obvious reasons, I obsessed about timing.

Flexibility

Unlike the rigid timing of perming hair, I’ve discovered that a Hope Hero—caring grief companion—can function beautifully with flexibility. While timing is important, there is a wide scope of opportunity.

When a friend has experienced the life-altering loss of a loved one, I once thought there was only a brief window of time—about two weeks—to send a card. If months had passed, a card was no longer appropriate. The opportunity had passed.

Nonsense!

If you delay sending a card for a month or more—it has some advantages. It provides another touchpoint after the attention of caring friends goes quiet.

Grievers need your expressions of care and compassion over months and years, not just days or weeks.

But there is something we shouldn’t delay.

It’s important to reach out to your grieving friend as soon as you’re aware of their loss. Acknowledge their heartache and express love, prayers, and empathy.

You can do this unobtrusively through a call, voice message, a text or email. With each communication, remind the griever that a response is not required.

Why?

Grief is exhausting and disorienting. The crushing weight of loss steals capacity for even simple tasks and courtesies. Kindly release the griever from any expectations.

Unless you’re simply dropping by with a hug, a meal or a gift, showing up at their door—without invitation—is only for the inner circle.

If you’re invited inside, be brief, be kind and then be gone unless you’re asked to stay.

But do continue to check-in from time to time by calling or texting. Please don’t take it personally if there is no reply for a long time.

In each communication, assure the griever of your care and offer specific ways you can practically help, if desired.

Notice

I’ll never forget how thoughtful friends took time to notice our needs and step in with offers.

  • After our son’s funeral, friends made several trips to the airport transporting our relatives and visitors.
  • Courageous friends assisted my husband with the emotional task of choosing our son’s burial spot.
  • Caring friends took an interest in our daughter and kindly treated her to special outings.
  • Invitations to dinners and social events came long before we were fun to be around. Our friends understood we occasionally needed a distraction from our grief but they didn’t obligate us to take part.

After the funeral, when the flurry of activity has quieted down, it’s time to be even more intentional about touch points.

What can you do?

  • Share a song that is meaningful and expresses your heart. One of my favorites is “In Jesus Name” by Katy Nichole.
  • Give the gift of a book. Choose one that has been helpful to you or recommended by someone you trust. Encourage your grieving friend to read it only when they feel ready. No strings attached.
  • To make it easy for you, when you buy my book from shirleythiessen.com, I will mail it to your grieving friend on your behalf.
  • Invite a griever to join you for a walk and promise to be a good listener. Movement, fresh air and an attentive friend equals excellent soul care for the brokenhearted.

What often stops you from making time and taking action as a Hope Hero?

Could it be paralysis by analysis?

Overthinking a plan until you’ve talked ourselves out of it may keep you from stepping out with compassion.

Choose courage, my friend.

As time passes, continue to be quietly heroic as a caring friend. The frequency of your check-ins may change, but the impact doesn’t lose its potency.

Be the reason a grieving soul believes that God cares for them—every time you reach out.

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Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.