By Charity Rattray
I get by with a little help from my friends.
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. – Tim Cahill
Cultivate solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends, rather than mob merriment, noise and thousands of nodding acquaintances. – William Powell
There are a few wonderful aids to living. They are found in sincere friendship.
Friends are God’s best evidence of grace for grief, they are a type of guide to being human.
They help blaze a way through. If you are reading this and wondering how to be a good friend during the storms of those around you read on!
In our family we had a raw, real, conversation today about grief. One should be honest and say there are no words. No words for the impact and life shattering course change a death in the family can bring.
Today we reflected on what did help?
Hugs with or without words. Prayer.
What words actually help? More on that in a min.
Meals, with paper plates, plastic silverware, and guests to share the meal (a loss of appetite is common). Jamie offered me a meal one evening and I broke into a blubbering mess. Right there in Christy’s kitchen on my birthday, my last birthday with her. Mostly I had spent the whole day at the cottage sharing one more sweet mother daughter moment of her gift of life to me. The day was beautiful. The day before hadn’t looked so good. She was fading and I went home on the 16th with hotness and anger in my chest. It was tough but the thought of her dying on my birthday was more than I could stomach. I walked in and she instinctively had rallied. She had a visitor and we had one more day of sharing the good news of our hope in Christ with someone together. This was the strength of our relationship. We had plenty of differences, but the gospel was our foundation. It had been a beautiful day.
When Jamie specifically offered a meal, my heart, like a toddler with a glass of juice, spilled exhaustion and gratitude. I was all chubby arms and frustration; relieved to have someone help me out a bit and thankful for the moment when God, seeing my human weakness, intervened.
More on the human way to voice care and love for another.
Consider the beliefs of the family, and avoid phrases like they are in a better place, or this was God’s will. Know acutely you have no business to judge their reactions to loss. Until your feet have traveled through the shadows of death you fall short of comprehension. We are not God, so try to refrain from speaking for Him. If you must speak a word of God, try the written words from the Bible “God is able to comfort us” or “Jesus wept” or simply do that -weep with them. Do not try to push them beyond their grief. Few people have the courage to sit and pause with us in pain. Those who do reflect the nature of the Shepherd so beautifully.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:13
Practical help is golden.
Bathroom items were useful, as you have a high frequency of visitors who use the restroom.
Coffee runs, gifts, and acts of service are all lights to the darkness of despair bright with human compassion. I was heading to the Cottage in the Meadow one morning with my niece, Taylor. We pulled up to the local Starbucks ordered our drinks and upon payment found the person ahead of us had pre-payed for our drinks. This kindness was a sort of survival piece of food for the starvation you feel in the wilderness of cancer’s barren landscapes.
Company let’s you know while they can not change the circumstance they want bring relief to your pain and help your process of grief. We had so many visitors in those 21 days. Sarah and Jamie arrived with a chocolate croissant and guitar. We sang favorite songs even and made up new songs with Drew. I found comfort in the light of their fellowship and holding Jamie’s babe Haaken in my arms.
If you are the one going through the loss, please remember people say anything, and it’s wise for you to set a boundary.
My mother-in-law after the death of her son, was staying with friends who chose to watch a violent crime show nightly and the graphic nature of the series made her stay with them extra painful. Speak up and voice your needs, if something is too difficult for you say so. Sometimes you just need to give voice to your emotions.
C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed writes “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way to making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”
C. S. Lewis gives an honest description of his grief. Look at your struggle honestly respond honestly.
Also everyone goes through grief differently, respectfully give each family member the freedom as they process this new life they will now live.
A new life is born, just as when your world changes with marriage or birth it also changes forever with death. As you move forward your story will be woven with other’s and will bring hope to someone else. I experience this frequently. I have walked through the shadow of the valley of death to learn I will fear no evil for God is with me. I have walked through it to comfort those broken under the weight of their bereavement and to remind them that even here they are under the Shepherd’s watch, as am I.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Charity Rattray lives in Ellensburg, Washington, with her husband Jared Rattray and four children. Charity had a profound love encounter with Jesus at the age of 18 and all aspects of her life are fueled from the source, Jesus the Love of God. Charity and Jared founded United By Love, where people of various denominations and religious backgrounds can come together with the common, united mission of sharing the love of Jesus Christ. She serves at Mercer Creek Church happily leading kid’s worship, summer day camp, and various church activities. You can find more blogs by Charity at mrscharityrattray.com.
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