Grieving the death of a loved one is a unique and difficult experience. People experience lots of overwhelming emotions and need support along the way.
So, how do you minister to someone who is grieving?
Being a good listener, being personal and intentional, and sharing expectations are important when ministering to someone who has lost a loved one. Additionally, grief care resources such as grief counseling and grief programs can help individuals find hope beyond grief.
Here are 4 ways to minister to someone who is grieving:
1. Be an active listener
In conversation with others, we tend to listen enough to respond. We gather information that we need to answer a question that the other person asked or to add on to their thought. However, we usually are not active listening.
When ministering to an individual who is grieving, it is important to listen intently to what they are saying. Instead of thinking about how you are going to respond, be present and empathetic towards them, and validate their feelings. Respond in short, simple ways that show you are listening to them.
Don’t try to identify with their situation if you have not been through it. If the individual lost their husband, don’t try and compare that grief with the grief you experienced in a different situation, such as a divorce. Doing this can cause harm rather than help.
The individual may not want to talk at all. Sometimes, just another friends presence gives them comfort. Sit with them in silence. It can feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it may be what the person needs in that time.
2. Be personal and intentional with the individual
It’s easy to type up a quick comment on social media saying that you’re praying for the person or that you wish them well, and then go on with your day. Instead, go out of your way to do something more for them and connect with them on a personal level. Some ways you can do this is to:
- Write them a card
- Pray with them
- Make them a meal
- Have an in-person conversation with them
Be supportive and come along side that person to help them. Showing true, intentional compassion is important when connecting and ministering to someone who is grieving.
3. Share with them what to expect when grieving
Informing those who are grieving on what to expect during the grieving process can be helpful. During grieving, people often experience bouts of depression or extreme sadness, physical pain such as headaches and body aches, and discouragement. Sharing these expectations with someone who is grieving does not make these experiences any easier, but it does give the person stability and validation when they experience such.
Often times, people are surrounded by others the first few weeks after losing a loved one. They receive many phone calls, texts, letters and visits. Eventually, the traffic of company and support begins to slow down. This can be a very difficult time for the individual.
Kindly sharing this expectation with someone who is at the beginning of their grieving process is helpful. Additionally, be there for them when things slow down. Reach out to them and check on them periodically. Show them that you are there for them when they need you.
4. Point them towards additional grief care resources
Though talking to friends is helpful, many individuals need grief care resources such as support groups, grief programs, and grief counseling. Speaking to a licensed professional and to those who have gone through similar situations can be comforting and affirming.
Grief Care Fellowship offers a six week program called Hope Beyond Today for those who are grieving which you may find helpful. This program was developed by individuals who have lost a loved one and have had to navigate the grieving process. Through video and discussion, Hope Beyond Today provides practical ways to deal with their pain after losing a loved one so that they know there is hope beyond grief.
Contact us, today, if you have additional questions about how to minister to someone who is grieving.