International (MNN) — Do you have a grieving friend or family member? It can be difficult to know how to encourage them, especially when you don’t want to say or do something unintentionally hurtful.
Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries knows grief. His wife, Karen, died suddenly four years ago. He had loved and lived life with her since he was 19 years old.
If you want to show Christ’s love to a grieving friend, Hutchcraft suggests the time you take to listen is just as important as the words you say.
“Let them talk to you about their memories of the person they lost,” Hutchcraft says. “I think there’s something helpful and therapeutic in just talking about funny things that happen in your life with them, hard things that you went through together. It might seem like, oh, that’s sad. But you’re helping them process this person’s life.
“We tend to focus so much on the circumstances of someone’s death and ‘what if’ — if only he had left five minutes later, if only the doctor, if only. And you just rehash the last days of their life. But they had a life that was a lot more than just the end of it. So help them begin to celebrate that person’s life and not just grieve their death.
“If they cry, if they speak doubts, hurt, anger, whatever, let them. That’s part of the process of not letting this go in where it morphs into anger and depression and a hard heart and bitterness. Get it out and let them talk about it.”
Also, go with your grieving friend or family member to Jesus — the “man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
“When you say, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ well, thank you, that’s good,” says Hutchcraft. “But when I pray with you, there’s something that goes to your soul with that, that allows you to hear someone else representing your need and your grieving and your loss to a Heavenly Father.”
And even if you can’t pray with them in person, Hutchcraft suggests, “You can text a prayer! I’ve texted a prayer to many people. Email a prayer to them. What’s on your heart to pray for them? Go ahead and put it into writing if you can’t be in a position to do it verbally.”
Finally, you can get a deeper lens into the grief experience – and the hope Christ offers – through Gospel-centered grief resources.
Header photo courtesy of Ben White via Unsplash.