Last week, an amazing woman in my life named Keri lost her fifteen-year-old son, Seth. He was a remarkable young man. Keri was sold out for her boy and my heart bleeds for her.
How can I help?
Many years ago, a dear friend lost her two-week-old baby boy. She went on to suffer miscarriages and then the birth of a baby girl, diagnosed with the same disease as her brother. This baby lived, but an early childhood of suffering ensued until a kidney transplant healed her.
Walking this journey with my precious friend and observing her experiences changed me.
I am ultra-sensitive about doing what is “right” in the face of tragedy. I’ve witnessed help as harm. I’ve made mistakes. I’m desperate for God’s help and grace as I attempt to minister to a suffering friend. It’s an imperfect science isn’t it?
Everyone is different of course, yet I’ve noticed commonalities – actions that seem to minister to most.
Pray. The best gift we can give is our prayers. But when we tell our friend that she is in our prayers, may we not throw out common verses or platitudes. For example, when my girlfriend lost her baby boy, people said things like, “God has a reason for everything” or “God needs your baby more in heaven than he does on earth.” It became like needles to the heart. Maybe the only words to say are, “I’m sorry”.
I’ve asked God to tell me how to pray and help Keri. Prayer is an inestimable factor in times of need, sometimes it is the only thing we can do. I’ve been amazed to see how God has answered this for me in the past. He’s given me marching orders that were personal and fitting for the situation at hand.
Ask. I’ve learned that asking,”What can I do to help?” is too general. If your friend is like me (and maybe you), she won’t let you know. I might ask, “When can I bring you dinner?” or “What can I get you at the store?”
Does she want company or space? I tend to need space, but my husband likes company in trying times. What does your friend need now?
Financial Help. Give money or gift cards. Tragedies are often financial quicksand with lost work, funeral expenses, travel costs, etc. Giving ministers, no matter what her wealth or lack thereof.
Remember. Put the birthday of her lost loved one on your calendar. Call her that day. Remember her at Christmas. Remember her after the relatives have gone and others have returned to their lives. Then remember to repeat all the above: Prayer, Asking, and Financial help. Then do it again.
What about you, my friend? How do you gracefully give during a tragedy? What have you learned from your experiences?
Thankfully, God meets us graciously as we minister to our friends in their times of need.
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…
To comfort all who mourn…”
From Isaiah 61:1 and 2 NKJV