Giving meaning to loss
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
As people work through grief, many decide to honor the memory of their loved one.
Lorna Hawkins’ 21-year old son, Joe, was murdered a block from her home. A few years later, her son, Gerald, was murdered bu suspected gang members. She took action and founded a group called Drive By Agony. they organize peace marches in many cities to call attention to deaths by handguns.
Glen and Carol Johnson’s daughter, Beth, died when a bomb exploded aboard Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland. The Johnsons now volunteer to help other families who are affected by airline disasters. “We tell people this terrible sharpness, this terrible pain will dull,” says Mrs. Johnson.
Tom and Kim Sheridan lost triplets to miscarriage. Mrs. Heridan says, “When there is a lack of ritual, there are not a lot of people who accept that your loss is real. When you lose a preterm baby, not only are you going home from the hospital with no baby, but you also have no support in your grief.” With their family and friends, the Sheridans held a service during which they planted three seedling treads and read from Scripture.
The Father of mercies and the God of all consolation…consoles us in all
2 Corinthians 1:3,4
How to help a grieving friend
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement…and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.”
Henri Nouwen, from Out of Solitude
Those who come through grief often remarkthat the loving support of friends and family members made all the difference. But many people aren’t sure what to say or do.
One widow said, “My husband died suddenly. From that day until this, my supervisor has not said one word to me about his death.” Although an estimated 25% of employees in any given workplace are grieving, co-workers are often reluctant to bring up the subject. This just adds to a person’s grief.
After the death of her son, Charlotte Maluski joined her church’s bereavement support group. They give practical aid: “One person returned dishes to those who had brought food; another helped address thank you notes. A young man offered to mow the lawn and another offered to take her friend to church.”
Here are more ideas:
- Listen. Be there without feeling you must constantly offer advice or good cheer.
- Give your friend the freedom to cry.
- Share memories of the person who died.
- Avoid clichés like, “I know just how you feel.” No one knows another’s grief.
- Visit, call and write regularly.
- Provide support but let the grieving person make decisions.
- Accept changes in your friend. Grief can be an emotional roller coaster.
- Pray for your friend