Tips for pastors’ wives to when visiting a grieving family.
As a senior pastor’s wife, few tasks are more difficult than visiting grieving families. Have you done it yet? If so, you know the pain can be so thick that it’s almost visible. So heart-wrenching. It’s very difficult to find your place in that situation. My best tips for pastors’ wives would be 1) be yourself, 2) don’t try to answer any “why” questions and 3) just be prayerful and helpful.
If you’ve ever grieved a love one yourself, such visits can stir very personal memories for you personally. However, I think that makes you more empathetic and powerful as a comforter. Having been “there” you are positioned perfectly to know what to say, not to say and how to bring comfort.
If you haven’t had a loss before, your heart will be heavy simply from a place of compassion and caring. Either way, it’s not easy, is it?
Here are five tips to remember when visiting the bereaved. I hope they bless you:
Advice point #1: Be quiet.
One of the biggest mistakes people make (pastors and pastors’ wives too) is to try to comfort through words. What a waste of time. In short, you have no words that can really do anything to soothe the piercing pain and shock of loss. Don’t even try.
Instead, turn to God’s word. Still, use it very sparingly.
Yes, the Bible is the ultimate source of comfort, but when someone is severely stricken with grief, it may not be easy to digest in the moment. It can come across as “noise” to a person already emotionally overwhelmed.
For example, when you have a very traumatic emotional blow, you don’t think logically or mentally understand anything going on around you. I know in my own debts of grief, I felt like the room was spinning around me. Although scripture was somewhat soothing, it was a bit much to digest intellectually, emotionally and mentally. That’s me.
I was most comforted by those that just sat with me and held me.
Hence, I think the best thing to do is to sit quietly and just be “there”. Be ready to do anything that is needed. It may be getting water for someone, washing a few dishes, being an extra pair of hands in another way or just a quiet comfort.
Someone’s once told me that I blessed them, by holding their baby while they were managing a shock of bad news. Do whatever you need to do to be a blessing.
Again, keep your words few (unless the Holy Spirit guides); it’s better to be silent than to say something that causes more or pain.Tips for pastors' wives comforting grieving families. Click To Tweet
Advice point #2:
If the family knows you are coming to the home, you can always ask “what can I bring you?”
They will likely respond with “nothing”.
So, be prepared to bring something you know they can use. I like to bring a case of bottled water or some other practical item. I’ve even purchased toilet paper and paper towels in bulk.
Trust me, they will likely have enough flowers before long, so a practical item can be a blessing.
Advice point #3:
Cast the care quickly. Although you’ll be surrounded by grief and pain, you cannot internalize it. You must find the balance between being a loving support and taking on people’s problems. God never intended us to carry other people’s burdens, we just bear them for a bit. We shower them with prayer and compassion and then cast our (and theirs) cares upon the Lord.
He loves them so much and He will take wonderful care of them. He will use you to be a practical comfort, but the late nights of tears and pain are God’s job –not yours. Let the Holy Spirit do His work. Do what you can, but don’t internalize their hurts.
Advice point #4:
Dress comfortably. I know this sounds silly, but going to visit the bereaved looking like a beauty queen changes the dynamic and tone of the visit. I try to dress so I will blend in with the family.
This isn’t the time to wear something that screams “Look at me!!!” or “I’m First Lady/Pastor’s Wife!!!”
Think of how the Holy Spirit ministers: gently, quietly and in what the Bible calls a still small voice. Blend in.
Advice point #5:
Pray about taking someone with you. If I know the family well, I’ll visit them alone or with my husband. However, if I am not very close to the family or do not know them, I always have someone go with me.
This is just a best practice and pure, old-fashioned wisdom. Everyone in the bereaved family may not be saved and handle pain in a variety of ways. Further, some neighborhoods may be more daunting than others. Take someone.
Bottom Line: be judicious with words. Be wise and try to be a blessing. Amen?
I’ve found some articles that might be useful:
Married to a Pastor.com is a blog for pastors wives focused on offering encouragement for a pastor’s wife as well as insight on being a pastor’s wife…from one pastor’s wife to another.