On April 6, 2018 in Saskatchewan, Canada, a horrific highway collision took the lives of 16 on a hockey team, and injured the other 13 people on the bus.
As I observed the outpouring of support, my mind lurched back to deaths in my family — my baby sister, my father and mother, my 5-year-old niece, and my 31-year-old niece. My heart pierced anew.
Christ, incarnate, entered into and shared our sorrows as well as our joys. Just as Isaiah prophesied, He was ”a man of sorrows, intimate with bitterest grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
So, how can I genuinely share when people are experiencing loss? Several ways.
While my own feelings of ineptness may be strong, I can do one thing: show up. I can construct a bridge to vitality out of my presence, trusting that the Holy Spirit is embodied in me.
I share by saying little. Remembering that it’s about them frees me. No story about my loss is significant right now. Very few words are needed.
I can listen attentively, so that I can focus on what my friend is processing. Since once is not enough, I’ll learn to listen repeatedly, patiently, and through asking what today is like for them.
I’ll determinedly set aside my own needs — the desire to give advice, to judge that I know for sure what is best for my friend, and to speed up the grief process and move on.
My genuine desire is to exhibit real love, not pretend love.
Lord Jesus, please help us to trust you even when the valley of the shadow of death and loss seems overwhelming. May we trust you even when we wonder why you seem absent to people during the devastating losses which you allow. Show us how to be merciful to those who are grieving. May we, as St. Francis of Assisi prayed, not seek so much to be consoled, as to console. Amen.
Go Deeper — Review James 1:19: “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Ponder what it means to be quiet, and yet to remain present while you are with others. Although being a listener may not be your strongest skill, remember God’s loving Spirit goes with you.
Photo Credit: Irina Kostenich