There’s this guy in the Bible named Job. You may have heard of him. He’s known for suffering (a lot) and for his patience. But as I’ve been reading again through his story recently, I’m struck by his friends’ reaction when they visited him, working together to help him in his grief, and empathizing with him. The Bible says that they didn’t recognize him. They tore their clothes in shock and wept. They sat with him for seven days and nights without saying a word. How many people would do that with me?
They didn’t spout clichés or platitudes because they saw how great his grief was. They didn’t just call or drop by for a few minutes and say “sorry you’re going through this.” No. They sat with him for seven days without saying anything. Now that’s real commitment to helping a friend.
Every family deals with tragedy eventually. When your friends or family are struggling, you and your spouse, working together, can be a big help to them, but maybe in unexpected ways.
Here are some tips on how your family can work together to show a needed kindness to your hurting friends, helping more together than you can just on your own:
1. Free up your spouse to help:
Maybe your wife needs to console a friend. Or maybe your husband needs to help his buddy in a time of need. The first and best thing you can do is free your spouse up by offering to cover for them while they attend to your friends. Think of it as pinch-hitting for your spouse so they can step away from regular life to enter into a friend’s time of grief.
2. Free up your friends to grieve:
Similarly, maybe you can take over for their kids or help them with some of their obligations or needs at home so they can get away to work through their grief together. The more you can clear their schedule, the more your suffering friends can focus on the grieving process, free from distractions and details that you’re helping to handle.
3. Offer to Secure Some Counseling Help:
It can be hard emotionally, much less financially, to find and accept counseling help if you’ve never had it before. If you and your spouse cannot afford it alone, consider pooling your resources with other family and friends who care about your grieving friends. Offer to pay for some sessions of counseling if you see them needing some additional help to navigate the choppy waters of grief.
4. Be willing to be on call, and to call:
Let your friends know they can call anytime. But also be in touch with them on a regular basis. You may be afraid of not knowing what to say, or wanting to avoid smothering them. But too often when the cards stop coming and the flowers fade, the quiet times become the hardest. Stay engaged with your friends so they know they are not forgotten. [Tweet This]
5. Look for practical ways to help, then do it.
Everyone offers “if there’s anything I can do, let me know” but few will actually DO something. Doing something practical, instead of merely offering to help without specifics, can really give them the mental space they need to deal with life. Remember that when a family or friend is suffering in grievous circumstances, they won’t seem like they can consistently “think straight” about their regular life or everyday needs. That’s where you can proactively step up and help.
What are some other ways your family or spouse has worked to come alongside a suffering family or friend? Share your ideas and experiences through our comments section.