Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Helping the Heavy Heart

I remember a message I heard at church a few years ago.  The preacher had on a suit, his hair looked nice, and all looked well.  When he took off his suit jacket, the "all-together" look we had seen changed.  His white dress shirt had black words written all over it.  Words of pain and heartache.  The message was, you may see that a person looks good on the outside, but sometimes we don't see the pain and heartache on the indside.

There are heavy hearts all around us.  This week in particular is a sobering, sad week for me.  It marks the two year anniversary of my dear friend losing her son in an accident.  It is also the week I learned that a lady I know found out her husband has cancer, and they are giving him 6 months to a year to live.  And another young man I knew when he was smaller passed away a few days ago.

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do know a few things that I can do or shouldn't do:

*Never say "I know how you feel" if you have not faced the same situation.  If you have never lost a young child, or a husband, or are facing cancer with your spouse, you really don't know how that person feels.  It sounds callous to say that you do.

*I think that it is better to give a hug and pray for a person, than to try to say the "right" things, and say too much.  People mean well, but sometimes they can say the dumbest things.  I remember reading where someone lost a loved one, and someone told them that they knew how they felt because their dog died.

*You cannot know the pain of death that another person is suffering with if you have never experienced it yourself.  You just can't.

*People do not bounce back from a death for a long, long time.  When our lives go on just a few months down the road, a part of them has died, and they suffer and cry much more and much longer than they show.  I was shocked that after just a few months of our 18 year old friend Nicholas passing away, that someone had the nerve to tell his 19 year old sister that it was time to move on.

*Sometimes a meal helps a family that is coping with loss, or whose heads are swimming because they've been delivered news of terminal illness.  

*Sometimes offering to be available to watch smaller children is a help to a mother and father who have lost a child.  

*Sometimes just being a listening ear and a friend to cry with is a help as well.  Just to know that others care means so much.

I lost my father 4 years ago, and the sting of death is beyond words.  I do know how it feels to not be able to think clear enough to clean my house, and how it feels to want the world to stop so I can get off for a while.  But I'm also blessed to know the Comforter who helped me thru the darkest days, and to have friends who loved me enough to just listen to me cry and talk about my daddy.  

But I don't know how it feels to lose a child, or to lose my lifelong partner, or to be told that my home is facing cancer.  I can only go by what I've experienced myself, but believe that caring gestures and acts are always acceptable.  I cannot even fathom losing a child.  But I can offer my truest prayers and care.

And one last thought...

We've probably all heard "Judge not".  When  it comes to people that we meet on the street, or even people that we know rather well, I think this is something we should try to practice.  As was illustrated in the message I heard at church, we really don't know what lies behind a person's smile.  We don't know who is ready to collapse under the pressures in their lives.  

I'm thankful for those who have shown patience to me--I have certainly needed it in times past, and am sure I will need it again.

And this two cents.  


Faye said...

That "two cents worth" was worth more like "millions"!