What Kind of friend do you want
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What Kind of Friend Do You Want?
by Dan Langerock
How do you react to grieving people? Do you shy away from them, use cliches to try to fix the problem, or really listen when someone needs your help in this area? How do you want others to respond to you when grief is at your door?
Many people are shunted aside and ignored when they are grieving because people they know feel awkward,not knowing what to say, fearing they may say something wrong, so over-compensating by saying nothing at all. This can leave the person who is grieving in a state of loneliness and isolation especially from couples who knew them before the death.
Others try to quick-fix the situation by telling of the their own experiences they believe relates to what is happening to this person. This can be more hurtful than helpful if it is done wrong. It is like if you were in the hospital and someone came in and told you all the horror stories they or others they knew went through with supposedly the same condition. You might as well stay home if you are going to try to comfort someone this way. If you must speak about similar circumstances, at least have the sense to make them positive experiences. For instance, when a person tells me as a chaplain in the hospital they are going to a certain hospital for a heart test, I tell them sometimes about my Mom's positive experience there. This will help to allay their fears, but should not be done in all circumstances.
Wouldn't you rather have someone by your side listening to what you have to say? A person who doesn't have to be talking to fill up the silence, but just sits there quietly looking for ways they can help you, and waiting for you to be ready to talk about what you are feeling. I have sat for almost an hour sometimes waiting for the person to talk. Sometimes they will apologize for grieving in front of me, but that is what they need to do to heal. I assure them that it is perfectly normal to cry and miss the person who is now gone. If they didn't cry, something would be wrong with that picture. Give them permission to do or say whatever they need to do in your presence to get that healing started.
What kind of friend do you want to stand by your side when grief comes knocking at your door? You can be that kind of friend by looking for needs as you go about your day-to-day duties, looking and listening with your heart, not just your ears. You will not feel compassion for the hurting around you if you just depend on your ears. How do you want to be treated as a griever someday? It is something all of us need to answer and think about.
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