The other day I called someone who had lost her husband. After a while I held the phone in silence and let her cry.
One of the silliest things I have seen at a funeral is someone going across to the bereaved party, holding his or her hand and telling them not to worry everything will be alright!
Everything will be alright?
Can you imagine what the grieved person feels when you say the death of a loved one is going to be made alright in the twinkling of an eye? So often we don’t understand how trivial we make of someone who is grieving. Sometimes instead of such ordinary words of comfort it is best we leave a grieving person without such silly words. So, how do you comfort those who mourn?
Experts tell us, among other things, to simply say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” Often, the less said, the better, so long as you are present, you care and you listen.
American poet Edgar Guest, told of a neighbor by the name of Jim Potter. Mr. Potter ran the medical store near where Edgar Guest lived. Mostly they smiled and exchanged greetings when they happened to see one another.
One tragic night the poet’s first-born child died. He felt overcome with grief. Several days after the death, Guest had reason to go to the drug store run by his neighbor. When he entered, Jim Potter motioned for him to come behind the counter. “Eddie,” he said, “I really can’t express to you the great sympathy that I have for you at this time. All I can say is that I am terribly sorry, and if you need for me to do anything, you can count on me.”
Many years later Edgar Guest reflected on that encounter. He said, “Just a person across the way – a passing acquaintance. Jim Potter may have long since forgotten that moment when he extended his hand to me in sympathy, but I shall never forget it – never in all my life.”
As the poet thought back to that unhappy time, one vivid memory, just a brief encounter, shone brightest. And it meant the world to a grieving father.
Those who comfort others bring no less than a piece of heaven to earth.
A small story I love repeating is that of a girl who heard that her neighbor had lost her son. She asked permission of her mother to go across and visit the grieving mother. The surprised mother of the little girl waited patiently for her daughter to come back and then asked her what words of comfort she had given to the grieving mother.
“Nothing,” said the litter girl, “I just crept onto her lap and wept with her!”
When others grieve your silent presence helps more than words..!
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