Have you ever found yourself wanting to be totally there for a grieving friend but then realize you have no idea what to say or how to best support them? We all have hard things happen in life, but they are rarely the exact same hurts or circumstances as our friends. More times than not, the things my sweet friends are going through are things that haven’t touched my life.
As friends who value our relationships, we want to show love and support no matter if we’ve been through the same type of storm or not. Personally, I have desired to step into the mess with the people I care about, and I have been the recipient of Christ-like love in the midst of my own suffering. Through these seasons, I have learned a few things and wanted to share them today.
#1 Physically Being With Your Friend Means A Lot
Every time I read this passage in Job, I tear up. It is such a beautiful representation of entering into the storm with a sister and grieving simply because our friend is grieving. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. Job 2:11-13.
These friends entered into Job’s suffering with him, and didn’t have to say a word to show that they cared. In the early days of suffering, being a familiar presence can be a great comfort.
#2 Admit To Her You Don’t Have the Perfect Words to Say
It is so much more life-giving for a friend to say “I see your pain and wish I knew what you are going through right now” than to say “I know how you feel” when you really don’t. It’s ok to let your hurting friend know that you don’t know what to say. Assure her that you are here for her and want to help. She will appreciate you being yourself.
#3 Focus on What You Can Do
Do you know a few amazing recipes you could stock her freezer with? Can you drive her children to their after-school activities for a few weeks? Is there a book she’s been talking about that you could bless her with? Think of ways that you can use the gifts and talents the Lord has given you, to ease your friend’s burdens while she goes through her difficult time.
If possible, pray for her in person with a hand on her shoulder. When I was going through crisis in my marriage, my amazing small group often prayed for me when I was with them. There was something indescribable about hearing my sisters-in-Christ lift me up to the Lord. It gave me great comfort and peace, and I often replayed the prayers later to remind myself that God was moving. There is nothing more powerful for us, as believers, to do than pray, and we should absolutely utilize it when comforting a grieving friend. Praying also gives an opportunity for God to show you how to best love on your friend at this time.
#5 Don’t Let the Fear Of Not Knowing What to Say Lead You To Do Nothing At All
The Body of Christ is an incredible gift given to us by our loving Father. We are not meant to do life alone. “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26. When we are willing to grieve alongside our friends, we strengthen the body of Christ. The world will notice that we are different when we are willing to lay aside our own lives for a season to love, pray for, and encourage a friend who is suffering (John 13:35).
What can you add to the list? Is there any particular thing a friend has done for you in a difficult season that meant a lot?