How to Comfort the Suffering:
#1: Empathize with the sufferer-
Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
#2: Pray for yourself-
James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
#3 Pray for others-
Phillippians 4:6 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
#4 Listen to the sufferer-
James 1:19 says “So then,[a] my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
#5 Consider causes other than the sin of sufferer-
John 9:1-3 says “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
These are the things I have found most helpful:
- Mention the loved one if possible, tell a positive memory of the person who died
- Bring meals, offer to clean the bereaved person’s house or watch the children so they can get a massage…etc.
- Call regularly and ask your grieving friend how she/he is feeling, come over for visits and just sit with the person
- Laughter is the BEST medicine! Make sure you time this appropriately though. Take your cues from your bereaved friend. If they are making jokes and starting to be silly or laugh, encourage that. After my son died, one of my good friends and I put our heads together and came up with an idea. We would change only one thing about our appearance and then go out in public and see the kind of reaction we got. For example, I made one long uni-brow across my forehead & she made the her lipstick go way around her lips. Everything else was normal except that one thing. It was hilarious to watch peoples reactions! My friend and I still laugh about it to this day. That laughter was very therapeutic.
- Find out if there are any special items your bereaved friend is collecting in honor of her loved one. For example, we collect our son’s favorite animal (the giraffe), butterflies, Willowtree sculptures…etc. We also had a memory quilt made out of his clothing that we include in our family pictures every year-it is just beautiful and so very special.
What NOT to do:
#1 Pre-judge a situation
#2 Have a know-it-all attitude
#3 Try to solve the problem of the one suffering
#4 Assuming the cause of suffering is sin
What is NOT helpful:
- Saying things like, “They are in a better place, at least you have other children, you should be over this by now, or any other insensitive phrase to brush away your own discomforts with the topic. When in doubt, don’t say anything.
I have actually had all of these things said to me by different (well-meaning but ignorant) people and they really hurt and make the situation even more difficult.