comforting someone grieving

Comforting someone grieving

Hi, beautiful Pastor’s Wife! I’m so sorry I’ve been incredibly quiet here on the pastor’s wife’s blog. You see, the last couple of years have been brutal for me emotionally, physically and personally. My mother’s health declined little by little, and I eagerly stepped in to support her in every way I could. However, my service to her did nothing to prepare me for losing her. She passed within the last few days of November 2023, and to be honest, I’ve been an absolute wreck ever since. I’m not ashamed to say it devastated me. It’s okay because I’ve learned a lot during this arduous season. I learned plenty about myself, our faithful God, and a lot about comforting others. One thing I learned in particular is that comforting someone grieving is not to be taken lightly. It is work. It takes time. Actually, in the past, I believed or figured my own personal enormous experience with loss made me a decent comforter. Maybe I was, but I am not so sure now. In truth, I think I may have forgotten how it felt to lose someone so close. With this fresh, close loss in my life, I feel so much more confident in the dynamic God created in 2 Corinthians 1:4:

“…who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort
those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

In many ways, grieving is training me to comfort others more effectively in the future. That’s all part of God’s brilliant plan. Isn’t He wonderful???

Ok. Let’s get to it.

In this post, I will share what helped me so that you may have some fresh ideas for comforting a grieving person in your life.

Remember, I’m not an expert.

I’m only sharing what I plan to do as I reach out to grieving church members and people in my life.

It’s more than a call or a card.

Remember, they are hurting in an emotionally excruciating way.

This may be [just] another ordinary day for you, but their world is upended and may feel demolished.

Before you make that call, it’s important to take a moment to consider their feelings. Even though you already understand this, our busy lives can make us forget. So, take a second to think about it before dialing or visiting.

And grief is not something a person goes through in a straight or linear way.

It’s more like waves crashing over them when they least expect it. Remember that as you are comforting someone grieving.

It’s a process and not a one-and-done. Plan to reappear in their world for about 3 months. They will need you. I know you know that. I’m just reminding you.

Make sure to add a reminder to your calendar to get in touch with them.

Here is how they may be feeling…

Grief is really a messy, incredibly personal season we go through when we lose someone in our lives. It often brings a rollercoaster of emotions — one minute you’re sad, the next you’re mad or even feeling guilty, all while you desperately miss the person you loved.

The response to loss, which is what grief is – is different for everyone, you know?

Some people cry, some get angry, and some feel numb. But no matter how they react, they are missing a crucial piece of themselves. When comforting someone grieving, I think it’s important to remember that.

For instance, my mother and I were incredibly close, and she is not here with me.

So, my entire life has changed. It’s not ruined. It’s not over, but it has changed.

And you know what else?

Grief is not something a person can brush off and move on from at will. It takes time to heal; even then, they might always feel that ache deep down.

Personally speaking, everyone who’s lost a close parent has told me there is no timeframe for grieving them. It lasts as long as it lasts.

I cannot manipulate it (Girl, if I could I would!)

From experience, let me tell you, I try to bury it.

I did that when I lost my dad and my brothers.

Trust me… that doesn’t work.

It only brings on bitterness or depression.

pastor's wife tips for helping grieving people

The “loss” part of grieving

In my view, loss is what triggers grief to occur.

It is like this big, gaping hole in your life where something or someone important used to be.

Think about that for a moment.

That feeling of emptiness and sadness hits them like an anvil in one of those old-school cartoons.

That’s a loss—missing the phone calls or hearing their voice.

In my opinion, a grieving person has many “differents” to consider.

They have to think about how their lives are different now. I have to remember to do things differently. That is how the person you are comforting is feeling.

It’s different from emotional grief.

As you comfort someone grieving, remember that they have both a void and pain associated with that void.

That is how I see it.

I don’t think grief and loss are the same. Do you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Pssst…I didn’t grieve “right”…

One thing I learned about myself over the last few months is I never genuinely grieved the other people I lost in the past.

Obviously, I cried – which isn’t the same as grieving.

When I lost my family members, of course, I was sad—very sad.

I felt the loss of their presence and sobbed often.

During my bereavement days off work, I kept myself busy and didn’t face my feelings about the loss; I just avoided dealing with it.

I had several reasons for this.

The first was that I had a kid who needed me. I couldn’t really stop and deal with or feel my emotions because he needed me to be a mom.

There is nothing wrong with that and really that’s ok. However, instead of dealing with the emotions I felt at different times, I ignored them altogether. I stuffed them deep down.

The second reason I did not grieve was that each loss hit my mom so hard that I needed to be strong for her.

I needed to get to her. Stay with her and be around her to give her support.

When the hardest losses occurred, she was the caretaker for her mom, who was at least one hundred years old at the time.

See why I needed to be there for her?

Mom couldn’t really grieve. I couldn’t really grieve. We both were taking care of people who were depending on us.

Now, it is ALL surfacing.

When mom passed 3 months ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t grieved because I was crying tears from losing my father.

I cried tears from losing my brothers.

I cried tears from when my favorite uncle died. It was wild.

This is important because NOW when I’m comforting someone grieving, I can encourage them not to repeat my mistakes. I can say something like,

“Be careful of allowing busyness to negate your grieving process. God will carry you through it, but you cannot mask the pain. It doesn’t work. I tried that.”

comforting someone grieving

Now, for comforting someone grieving

Here are some of the actions that carried – no, are carrying me through my grieving process. Many of them I hope to replicate. I hope they inspire you too.

First, my church knew just what to do!

I frankly took a couple of months off work after Mom went to heaven.

During that time, I only cried, handled business, healed, and “sat” in my grief.

My church kept me fed and sent countless cards. I will never forget how tenderly they cared for me and my family.

DoorDash and other food deliveries were such a blessing.

Consider sending food if you can. It really can be a Godsend when people are too hurt to think about eating.

One of my favorite things I got was some fruit via DoorDash. I loved all I received, but the fruit came when I wasn’t eating anything and could scarf it down easily.

They also sent me cards and numerous texts. So wonderful.

Second, cards be a great tool as you’re comforting someone grieving.

You know, Christian Sister, it might seem kinda old-school, but sending cards to someone who’s grieving can actually make a big difference. It did for me. It was like a little piece of comfort and support I could hold in my hands.

First, just knowing that someone took the time to pick out a card, write a thoughtful message, and send it can lift the spirits of a grieving person.

I think it shows that they are not alone in their grief and their pastor’s wife cares about them.

Plus, sometimes it’s easier to express your feelings in writing than in person or on the phone.

So receiving a heartfelt card can be really validating.

And even after the initial shock of loss starts to fade, getting cards in the mail can serve as a reminder you are still thinking of them. I’m so grateful for the ones I’m still getting.

Those people are ushering me into wholeness.

Thirdly, the grace to be left alone.

After experiencing a significant loss, needing space is totally understandable, right?

After all, the person you are comforting may feel like their whole world has been turned upside down, and everything is overwhelming.

The best gift people gave me, besides food, cards and texts was to allow me to be in my own space – alone.

They understood while I loved them, I didn’t want company.

The phone going to voicemail didn’t bother them.

Sometimes, that’s what people need. They need to be able to “check out” and deal with the pain they are feeling.

As the pastor’s wife, it’s important to know they are not trying to avoid you.

It’s also important to know that they may have people closer to them who are providing them comfort.

My biggest tip for comforting someone grieving is to give them space.

Remember that space is not about shutting others out or avoiding dealing with feelings; it’s about giving themselves the time and space to process everything at their own pace.

Back in the day, when I was a little girl in the 70s, after. loss, I remember the house would be constantly full. It was like a zoo swarming with activity.

They meant well.

Very often, the one grieving the hardest wasn’t even out there. They were in a room lying down.

I think they were processing and taking advantage of the time alone.

Maybe a full house provides comfort to some adults.

But, as a pastor’s wife comforting someone grieving, remember not everyone wants that visit or that crowd – even from pastor and his beautiful wife.

Conclusion

In the future, I hope to post more often here about the pastor’s wife’s journey.

Please stay with me.

I also hope I provided some helpful insights into how we can support and behave when comforting someone grieving. On my companion blog, GodsyGirl.com, I wrote some of the WORST things to say to a grieving person. Check it out here: https://godsygirl.com/loss-of-a-mother-and-words-of-comfort/.

While I’m at it, I wrote another blog post on how we can support grieving people. Check it out right here on this blog, too.

I love you. Thanks for reading and being part of my pastor’s wife journey.

Your thoughts are welcome. <3

Tips pastors' wives can use for comforting the grieving.

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