Not just once, but twice it happened. The first time was mildly disappointing but the second time stung.
Between the span of ten months, a grieving father named Chad experienced the pain of a broken promise. He felt forgotten.
In the lobby of their church, Kyle caught up with Chad to express his concern for him and his grieving family. It was the first time these men had spoken since the funeral of Chad’s daughter, Chloe.
Their relationship could be described as longtime acquaintances. Typically, Kyle and Chad only connected at church or related events.
Kyle’s youngest daughter was the same age as Chad’s Chloe. He could not imagine living without his sweet girl. Kyle had no idea how Chad found the strength to show up for church or work or life.
By the end of their brief conversation, Kyle had invited Chad to join him for lunch sometime soon. It was a kind gesture meant to provide more time and privacy for a transparent conversation about Chad’s loss. With appreciation, Chad readily agreed. Anytime! From a distance he had always admired Kyle’s character, leadership and faith. Honored by Kyle’s expressed desire to spend time with him, Chad felt encouraged.
Seen. Heard. Loved.
As human beings, we all share the need to be seen, heard and loved. When one is grieving and feeling incredibly vulnerable, those needs are often intensified.
Oftentimes since Chloe’s death, Chad had attended church feeling like his devastating loss was last year’s news. Rarely did someone acknowledge the fact that his family of five was missing a vital member. If Chad’s arm had been severed from his body, it would represent how he felt without his precious daughter. Incomplete and sorely lacking. Chad wondered if there were other grieving parents who prayed each night as he did: “Lord, please let me die.”
During their conversation it was decided that after Kyle’s upcoming business trip, he would call Chad to set up a time and date for lunch. He promised.
Sadly, the call never came.
Running late for the church service, Kyle was caught off-guard as he bumped into Chad in the lobby months later. With a quick apology for his busy schedule and forgetfulness about the promised lunch, a new plan was offered. After an upcoming family wedding, Kyle assured Chad that their lunch date was his priority.
For a while Chad was hopeful. But with the passing of weeks and months without a call, text or email from Kyle, deep disappointment set in.
On occasion, Chad and Kyle see each other at church or in the community. They exchange a polite greeting and go on their way. With no explanation given, a disheartened Chad feels too exhausted by grief to take the initiative to find out why. Kyle must have a good reason for not following through.
Why do I share this true and painful story with you, dear Hope Hero?
Fact: It is within your power to change this narrative for someone else.
There are times when, in my enthusiasm to be a grief companion – a Hope Hero – I have been guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. Likely some of you can relate.
Stories like Chad’s have been repeated. Our faith communities have gaps to fill. While the names and details are different in each story, the promises and pain points are similar. With the best intentions to make time for the bereaved, we can easily get distracted by many other things.
Here’s what I’m inviting you to do with me.
Take a few minutes and ask God this question:
“Show me someone for whom I can ease the burden of grief. I will help to carry it by listening to their story and acknowledging their loss.”
There are grieving friends simply waiting for you to invite them. The gift of your presence can refuel them with hope.
Three simple action steps:
1. Jot down the name God brought to your mind.
2. Call them and make a plan. If you can’t meet in person, connect by another means.
3. Put a calendar alert in your device or phone so you won’t forget.
Choose to under-promise and over-deliver. With discernment, commit to caring actions you can fulfill. Whether in business, parenting or life, it serves us well to under-promise and over-deliver. You know this to be true. It is much more fun to delight someone by fulfilling a promise rather than failing to deliver and becoming their pain point.
Quite likely Kyle didn’t fully grasp the disappointment he caused his grieving friend. But you and I know there is more at stake than meets the eye. Let’s take every opportunity as Hope Heroes to do good for the grieving around us. Start with one.
Cheering you on,