Anyone who has experienced trauma in life has also experienced the misguided help offered by unknowing people. The unkind remarks, the hurtful words, the thoughtless things people say to us because they don’t know what to say to us. And if you are grieving the death of your spouse or your child it can cut right to your already damaged heart.
We don’t want to lose friends, but sometimes those close to us are the worst offenders. Here are a few ideas on why this happens and what we can do to stop the pain.
Most of us who have never grieved have no idea how to talk to or minister to a grieving person. They want to help you, but they don’t know how. And few of us are natural gifted grief support workers.
Christians have been some of the worst I have been hurt by. They feel they have the right or the duty to speak truth to us. They use the Bible as a rod to pummel us into happiness. They speak words they think will minister to us and they do not know how their words hurt us deeply. This is Job’s comforters. I am not glad that Kathy is in Heaven, I want her to still be here. See what I mean?
Other people follow the Golden Rule of ministry: this helped me so I thought it would help you too. This logic doe not work in most of life. Why would we think in this tender and sensitive time of life this is a wise thing to do?
There are things that the grieving person can and need to do. One is to be merciful and to forgive. We cannot allow the foolishness of others to make us bitter and resentful. We also need to set boundaries and define the guidelines that we will interact with others within. It may not seem fair that the hurting person needs to do the extra work. But it is our best interest to help people understand what helps and what hurts.
Finally, do not assume that people will behave like you think they should. There is that evil word should again. Be honest with your friends when they hurt you. Be specific as to what helps. You can do this without being snarky or coarse. Love covers a multitude of sins. Tell people the truth about how you are feeling. If they try to fix you, don’t let them. Remember, in the end, only God could fix Job, not Job’s friends.
I assure you that if you will take these ideas and use them it will help you. You may lose some friends, but you will find new, unexpected friends too. Just like in real life. And you will set the stage of your life in a way that suits you, not someone else, no matter how many Bible verses they throw at you.