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July 8, 2019

What is really helpful when you are in grief?


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How do you find comfort?

Firstly, be with those closest to you. When we received news that we had lost our grandson, we knew we had to be with his parents, our son and his wife. I called our daughter’s husband and asked them to come and look after the grandchildren we had staying.

Let some people know who can let others know. Think of those who you want to let know personally. I was asked if we wanted to keep the news private, motivated by concerns for our privacy. People can’t express care for you if they don’t know. Inclusion is better than exclusion.

Phone calls are great.

There is a strength that flows through voice. Hearing our friends voice in the pain was comforting and reassuring. Grief in the early stage is like a fog. In the numbness our friends’ voices gave peace and solidness. The most common phrase I heard was, “There are not words.” That actually was helpful because hearing people’s voices was the comforting thing, not words of possible explanations. Answering the phone was not easy. Sometimes, I choked up. Sometimes, I cried. I had a response phrase to “how are you doing” that was “I’m not doing great. It’s really hard.” This openness helped me and gave permission for people to express their love.

There were more calls than we were able to answer. Some left messages. It was great to hear their voice as we listened.

Emails and texts are special.

Again people most often said, “There are no words” or used the phrase ‘heartbroken’. They conveyed their love and shared our pain.
In reflection, I see that our friends and family understood that their role was to bring comfort, not to provide answers that are not able to be given.

Hugs and Tears.

Hugs from people we are connected to were also very helpful. People who know us didn’t try to gush words but conveyed love through hugs. Some just wept with us. Thank you. It meant so much.

Answering for God is not helpful

On occasions when people tried to give explanations, it was not helpful. One person said, “The Lord must have wanted him”. Was He to blame?! I recalled the words spoken by Dr. Gordon Moore at James’ memorial service. “We don’t know why: that’s a God question. We are not sure how it happened: that’s a medical question. But our faith tells us where James is. That gives us hope.”

Jesus said “God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”

Chatting about James as a family has been so helpful. We have cried together and laughed together. Being real with each other in experience has brought us all closer together. Vulnerability and transparency has strengthened us. We pondered as we sat by the open fire one night, what age will James be in heaven?

My learning is, I experience comfort through people.

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