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Posts Tagged ‘What to say to those in tough times’

father-playing-with-kids-in-park

Lauren’s husband, Mike, was the quintessential family man. He took the kids to the park, in order to give Lauren a break from mothering and homeschooling. He pitched in with the folding of laundry and the execution of science experiments. He quickly turned the Honey-Do list into Honey-Did, because Mike actually enjoyed puttering around the house, making repairs and improvements.

One Saturday he climbed up on the roof to check for a leak around the chimney. Somehow he lost his footing, tumbled to the ground, and hit his head on the cement driveway. He never regained consciousness, and died the next day.

FOR THOSE WHO GRIEVE

When such unspeakable tragedies occur to those we know and love, what words can we say to the family in order to comfort or help? Every possibility seems terribly inadequate:

  • “Mike was such a good guy.”
  • “We’re going to miss him.”
  • “We are so sorry.”

Actually, those three statements offer good places to begin.  Experts in grief support tell us that affirming the positive qualities of the loved one is very meaningful to a grieving family. A short story that highlights one of those qualities is also appropriate. The assurance that the loved one will be missed offers comfort as well.  And even a simple but heartfelt “We-are-so-sorry” communicates caring and support.

FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER

In addition to the loss of a loved one, there are other situations that may be less traumatic, but still leave us tongue-tied, wondering what we can say—situations like divorce, lay-offs, scandal, and serious illness.

Again, we’d do well to turn to the experts who tell us to:

  • Express sympathy. “I am so sorry you are going through this tough time.”
  • Offer affirmation. “I’ve always been impressed by your _____.”  Then name the strengths and personality traits that will be especially valuable during this time of trial. Such encouragement may help her see that God has equipped her, and he will see her through.
  • Listen.

Serious-Conversation

Yes, just listen.

Perhaps instead of worrying about saying the right thing, we’d be wise to let the hurting person share what’s on her heart.

A listening ear is a precious gift we can give in a world that overflows with chatter from electronics, technology, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. In fact, there seem to be more talkers these days than listeners.

Rearrange the letters of listen and you can make the word silent. To be good listeners we have to be silent and let the other person talk, uninterrupted. However, communication should still occur through:

  • eye contact, which indicates our interest and her importance to us,
  • facial expressions, as we respond to her words,
  • brief comments or questions now and then, that indicate we’ve heard her.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE DISCOURAGED

It is vital that we keep each other supported because Satan and his cohorts constantly whisper lies into our spirits. Lies such as:

“Who do you think you are anyway? And what makes you think you’re capable of accomplishing anything worthwhile? You are inadequate, unimportant, and practically useless. Get to the back of the line where you belong!”

The truth is: We’re sons and daughters of the King.  He has created each of us with spiritual gifts and talents to fulfill a specific purpose.

We can affirm others with such comments as:

  • “I am so glad God created you with _____.”  Again, name the strengths, talents, and personality traits that you admire.
  • “You know what else I appreciate about you?” Share your observations of her being courageous or wise or persevering—whatever might encourage her most, considering her current circumstances.
  • “For these reasons and more, I count it a great privilege to know you.”

Such “pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24).

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Father, I thank you for the privilege of being your voice, to minister encouragement to others. You’ve given us your heart to express love and compassion to a hurting world. We pray for your Spirit’s wisdom and strength to be at work in us and through us, because we so desire to offer your right words at the right time.

(Photo credits:  www.visualphotos.com; http://www.thecripplegate.com; http://www.celebrationchurchlive.com.)

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