What to Say to Those that Grieve


Right outside our bedroom window sits a recycling bin that has just been engulfed by years of memories…pictures, letters, cards, and photos. One bin holds a thousand memories of past pain, joy, and hope.

 The picture above brings about such mixed feelings for me. I have the tendency to harbor memories. I love memories. I love history. I love the lessons taught, the lessons learned, the joy captured in a fleeting moment. However, when you spend more time revisiting old memories rather than making new ones…well, then it becomes a problem. Memories are meant to be shared, and meant to be kept hidden in our hearts. Finding out who to share those memories with, and relive those memories with can be a wonder. 

I opened the card sitting atop the pile of memories and read a painful line of words that brought back a flood of emotions I had once forgotten. I attached to those emotions…pain. Memories of a difficult time when no one had the “right” words to say so they said nothing at all. A time when God’s goodness stood in darkness, and His will was questioned by many…not just me. My mom’s death affected the lives of many. I don’t think I really ever understood or grasped the reality of that until the moment I looked at this mountain of letters and cards from dear friends…and not so dear. We were all left speechless by the outcome of losing a woman who shared her smile and love for Jesus with the world. Friends who wrote and openly admitted, “I don’t know what to say, but I pray! I pray hard… for you, your family.” In a world where we feel like we always have to have something to say, always an opinion, always a political view, sometimes silence is best. Sometimes silence heals more than a word. It is in our silence that God tells us, “sometimes we know not what we ought to pray for and so He intercedes for us on our behalf.” Romans 8:26-27. We might make notions about what should have been said, what should have been done in every circumstance that seems unfair. But sometimes those notions are brought about by pride. A pride that says our opinion should be heard in every chaotic circumstance of pain and unfairness. 

It is ok to say “I’m speechless.” It’s ok to say nothing at all in the midst of the grief stricken. It’s ok to say nothing, but rather close your eyes in prayer and sit in silence with those that hurt and are overwhelmed. You need not say you’re sorry, or apologize for your lack of words. 

There are no words that can bring healing in a time of grief. There’s only One who brings comfort to a broken heart. There’s only One who heals in the midst of the grief that comes with loss. Words are not needed, prayers are. Words do not need to be shared, tears do. Sit in silence and share your prayers in the presence of those that have lost and grieve….and persevere in those prayers because the hardest days are not the ones in the beginning, but rather the months and years after. The loneliness that spills out of every corner of your being the moment you’re left alone to “do” life again while the world around you continues on as normal is the hardest part for those that have lost…at least for me it was. Your acknowledgement that it must be hard ~still~ because time doesn’t heal, God does, will mean more to the person than the words of “I’m sorry” you’ve spoken in the past. Show up in their lives months down the road, bend a knee, and persevere in prayer for those that hurt. This is what you can do for the hurting and grief stricken.


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