(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Beauty in Uncomfortable Places
By Amber Johnson
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
- Psalm 147:3
- John 11:35
As I sat down for the Grief Share seminar, my chest tightened as I nervously took in the faces of those sitting around me. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew this is where I needed to be for support.
Sliding off my coat and silently waiting for the leaders to begin, I noticed that most of us were sitting silently. I could identify with that silence. It was a peaceful and safe place. The silence was a place where I could manage my thoughts and emotions; sometimes it was just too overwhelming to speak.
Other times, tears would suddenly well up in my eyes. Or I would feel the need to speak about all that was happening in my mind. my body and brain were adjusting to this new normal without my dad.
Grief is like that. It can feel like a blind rollercoaster ride. Sometimes you’re high, other times low, and then other times you’re steadily moving forward as nothing has changed. It’s a strange and sometimes lonely place to be.
With Grief Share, we all shared something in common. We came together because we were all grieving the loss of a loved one.
With my small table of new friends, we had the option to share about our losses. We listened to one another and were reminded that we weren’t alone. It didn’t matter if the loss was recent or years ago, we understood the pain.
When it came my turn to speak during Grief Share, I explained that it had only been 7 months since my dad passed away. The weight of his loss had only heightened during the approaching Christmas season. Each twinkling light, Santa display, holiday parade, or Christmas movie was a stark reminder that things were forever different and my dad wasn’t here. With the new year quickly approaching, it was strange grasping that my dad wouldn’t be present in the next year. I would have no future memories with him on this side of heaven.
I remember being in awe of our leaders for the group. They had been where we were in that moment at one time. They now chose to lead a support group where others were experiencing the raw emotions of grief.
Their past pain was now being used for something beautiful- to have compassion for the brokenhearted. Seeing their willingness to step into an uncomfortable place to help others emboldened and encouraged me.
Like those Grief Share leaders, I knew one day I would be in a place to support others. But at that moment, I appreciated being heard and supported in my grief. The leaders’ willingness to lead only pointed me to God being a strong influence in their lives, as He had helped them in their healing. It wasn’t that their grief was completely gone, but God had strengthened and enabled them to now empathize and build up others.
How can we choose to support others who are grieving this holiday season? As Jesus wept and had compassion on others, we are to do the same.
Even if you haven’t lost a close loved one, the simplest acknowledgment of a friend’s loss or act of kindness can truly make a difference for someone who is grieving. Let’s choose to step out of our comfort zones, take notice, and build up others in our midst in this holiday season and new year.
Simple Ways to Build Up Those Who are Grieving:
1) Set up a coffee or tea date to just listen. Don’t try to fix.
2) Offer to bring them a meal or special treat.
3) Send them a text, give them a phone call, or write a letter of encouragement.
4) Encourage them to attend a Grief Share event, grief group, or therapy for support.
5) Ask them the specific date of when their loved one passed away. Send them a text of encouragement on that date. I have a friend who has done this every year since my dad passed, and it is truly a blessing!
6) Invite them to church with you.
7) Request their attendance at a holiday event or special get-together. They may say “no”, but it’s still nice to be invited and have some normalcy in this season.
8) Send an encouraging Bible verse.
9) Encourage them to read the Psalms each morning.