*Here is the continuation of my previous post.*
I also talked to another friend recently who lost a loved one and we were sharing some things with each other about comments that were made after the deaths of our loved ones, she said she was told that she should be thankful that her loved one was no longer in pain and was in heaven, which I also heard. She was also told she needed to remember that she would not want them back to suffer here, and she can just be thankful that she will see them again someday. And of course those statements are true, and right in a sense, sometimes though, it may not be the right thing to say at the time. Because of course we are so thankful for that, that is the blessed hope we know that we have as Christians, but there is a point where in our minds we would just love to have them back, even for a day. We both said we wished we could tell people that, that we would love just to see them, kiss them, hug them or hold them again. Even just to take care of them again, but we feel people would not understand that and we would just be thought of as selfish and wrong. So we don't say it, and keep it hidden in our own hearts and minds. But how nice and freeing it was to share with someone who didn't judge the thought and actually felt the same way! I know it seems weird, but even when my mom was sick, at least it was another "being" in the house, she was there, I could love on her, hold her, kiss her, talk to her. I can't explain how lonely it can sometimes get without her here. Even if I was talking to her and she didn't remember what I said minutes later, at least it was someone to talk to, or laugh with each day. Someone to share with after a long day, or a fun day. Someone to spend time with, even if that time was just sitting listening to each other breathe, or me just listening to her breathe. I just miss her spirit here...she was my family, she was my heart. That's just hard to share without someone thinking it's not OK, or wrong in some sense. This friend and I both feel that we are better about being thankful now, but it took some time for the Lord to help us get there...which I think is normal. At the time those statements were more harmful than helpful because of the strong hurt and loss and struggle that we were dealing with. They were almost just salt on the wound. Now, the point of this is not to make people feel badly for things they've said, I've said things like that, too. It's just to make us all, myself included, more aware of what we say, and how and when we say it. We need to pray and then think so that our words or even lack thereof, may be a source of encouragement to someone hurting or struggling.
Another issue is when we say, or expect someone to just "get over" or "get past" the hurt after a certain amount of time, that can also be hurtful. Sometimes there just needs to be compassion for what they are going through, and instead of telling the person all the things they need to do or not do, maybe we need to tell ourselves just to uplift them fervently in prayer, and then let them know we are praying for them. God is the only one who can help them get through the struggles and hurts. We also need to remember God made each of us differently, so while you may be able to move on quickly after a struggle, hurt, or loss of a loved one, someone else may not have that same resolve as you do. Our emotions are different, our situations are different, so our responses will also understandably be different. We need to be sensitive to that. Just because someone has lost a parent, it doesn't mean they can totally relate to someone else who has because each situation is different. Someone that's lost both parents may have brothers or sisters or a husband and children to help them through their time, where someone else may not. Someone that lost a child, may have other children to hold on to and cherish, to help them get through their tough time, and someone else may not have that blessing. Someone may have been abused, but has great help and support all around them, while someone else may not have even told anyone because they fear they can't. Someone may have financial issues that are overwhelming, but have sources of help if they just ask, and some may not have that luxury. Yes, I have lost my mom and can be a help to someone else who has, but I can't fully relate to someone who lost their mom at a young age, or someone who lost their mom suddenly. So when I share with them I need to be careful and sensitive to their personal pain. One of the things I try not to say is, "I know what you're going through", because I don't know exactly.
I also know and have heard from friends, that it is very difficult to listen to someone tell them how to act, react, or be in their struggle, when that other person has never been in that situation and has no idea what it's like. For singles to hear from someone that never had to wait, never had to wonder if they would ever be loved or have the family they always wanted, telling them how they should be content and thankful for the life that they have now, can be very hurtful. For a young person that loses a parent, to hear from other young people or even older people who still have their parents here on earth, telling them they need to keep going, and move on from this, and just be strong, that can do more damage than good. For someone who has never been abused to tell someone who has that they need to forgive and not harbor bitterness, and not let this define them, that can bring on more bitterness or anger. For someone who has never had money issues, to tell someone struggling financially all the things that they need to get rid of and to stop doing, that can be damaging. We just need to be careful and sensitive to other people's hurts and needs. Just as we would love them to be for us. Just remember we're all broken. We all have needs, hurts, struggles, and none of us is perfect. We need to be able to open up to each other, and share our hurts and needs without fear of being judged or criticized or looked down on for what we say or how we feel. Christ listened, and had compassion, and lovingly encouraged. We're not perfect, we don't have all the right answers...we're not supposed to. Let people get past the sadness, let people get past the fear, the hurt, the grief, and whatever else, and be there to support, uplift and encourage as Christ did. We're supposed to simply point people to Jesus...our Savior, our Comforter, our Friend, our Rock, our Father.
Lord, help me to remember these things as I try to encourage others that may be going through tough times or struggles. You have allowed us to go through things so that we can be an encouragement to others who may go through something similar. Help us to remember we all handle things differently and we all need understanding and encouragement and not more hurt. Thank You that we can come to You with our hurts, struggles, fears, and losses. Thank You for caring for each of them, and loving us through them. Help us to do that for each other.