Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Can a Friend Come Alongside You In Grief?

How Can a Friend Come Alongside You in Grief?

Below is a portion of a letter sent to me by a precious "Twitter Friend," Vicki.

Dearest Angie, Thank you for such a beautiful note and prayer; I really appreciate it and love hearing from you. I usually feel grossly inadequate to know how to respond to someone in grief, and yet you're always so gracious to me. I find it hard to face the thought of losing any of my own children or grandchildren - but when I do, I think of you and Merry Katherine, and how unfair it all seems.

How can a friend like me come alongside you? ....

I will answer Vicki's letter in two parts. Today's post is Part One:

Dearest Vicki, Thank you! I always love hearing from you too. You are always so gentle, tender, and edifying. . . . I think the main negative thing one coul
d say or imply that would get under my skin would be along the lines of

"You need to be over it! Don't you have God?! Then you need to be over it!"
That expectation is totally unrealistic and out-of-touch as it has absolutely nothing to do with any parents' reality of their living nightmare that haunts them daily.

It also drops a load of expectation on you that you can in-no-way measure up to. So, now add to your grief this unrealistic expectation that now adds

you're-a-failure-as-a-Christian-if-you-can't-get-over-it nonsense

to pile onto your burden of grief that was already-too-heavy-to-bear!

So, it's really pretty simple - when people speak down to me from their "Ivory Tower" ("Church-Steeple Ivory Tower"?) of naivete, happiness, and i
ntact-family-ness to say, "You just need to come on up here with US (into happy land again) and put your pain behind you," it is painful.

But if they can climb down into MY PAIN, even if just a little bit, to COME ALONGSIDE for a moment like Jesus did, that is what is sweet and helpful.

(I am thankful Jesus didn't just yell down to us from Heaven and say, "You just need to get up here with US!")

I love the words of Diane Langberg, a wonderful Christian psychologist up in Pennsylvania who teaches how Christians can minister to those going through pain, grief, or trauma:

"We are to be like Jesus:

1) We must first leave glory. (No preaching down at anybody with our "advice.")

2) We must "become little." (We must be as humble as a child.)

3) We must "enter the darkness." (We must climb into the griever's painful darkness.)

4) We must bear the character of the Father, full of Grace and Truth.

5) We must not abandon those in need.

6) We must not lose our perspective and allow our thinking to be distorted.

7) The body of Christ must choose to be a sanctuary to the hurting."

By coming into our pain with us and loving us where we really are, Jesus demonstrates to us His love and compassion that starts the healing process that helps to put us back together again!

As Diane says,
"You cannot 'instruct' a person out of their grief and trauma. You must climb into it with them, and let them teach you what it is like."

And that is what you do, Vicki! You are very kind; you know at some level that I am living in a kind of hell - a parent's absolute worst nightmare, a very complicated grief.

And you come alongside and show the sweet love and compassion of Jesus and THAT is always needed, and I can always respond to that sweetness!

So thank you!

To be Continued . . .

In Honor Of
Another Precious
"Twitter Friend"

Victoria Thomas Gaines
Vicki's Blog: "Light for the Writer's Soul"


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