Monday, December 17, 2012

Using “R” Roadmap Through Grief to Help Others

Using“R” Roadmap Through Grief
What if you had friends in Newtown, CT? Would you just stand there and do nothing? Or do you fear barging in and doing/saying the wrong thing? I hope you wouldn't let this situation paralyze you or your friendship with them. "R" Roadmap is a helpful tool to guide us through responding to our friends when disaster and loss hits home. It's not the answer to everything, but it gives you some handholds and roadsigns along the way.

The very first thing to do when a friend experiences loss is to be down on your knees praying for them. Then, go to them and "weep with those weep." Your presence is more important than anything you could possibly say.
After you've offered prayer and presence for your friend, Read, or listen, or watch good resources about THEIR grief to educate YOURSELF (not them) about the process. If you really do have a friend in Newtown, go to the Compassionate Friends website to learn about loss of a child. Also learn about childhood trauma (think of the surviving schoolchildren and their families, what they've seen, how they will deal with this living nightmare). Use this information to pray for and learn about family disaster response, what churches can do, and what resources and attitudes are needed. As a widow, realize it's quite possible that your experience has equipped you with extraordinary compassion and ministry skills.
If only the journey through grief had
some shortcuts!
Let folks Re-tell their story. Be their listening ear rather than their problem solver. You know from your own experience that it takes a period of time for the shock to wear off before people can begin to assess the damage and understand how they will begin to live again. Please don't be like the news media, reporting on "closure" and that the community is healing and moving on. Encourage your friend to eventually find a support group or counsellor. (A good one). Suggest they write down their thoughts and memories in a notebook, journal or blog. Another form of telling their story could be through art, like photography, scrapbooks, quilts, jewelry, painting, drawing, poetry, handcrafts, etc.
Understand that they may Relate to Role Models better than to your experience, and that's okay. Still be there for them. We all need a variety of people who step in along the way. This is where the church, the community, and groups like Compassionate Friends can help. Positive role models will light a spark in them to keep pressing on. Negative role models are also out there so be aware of that and if necessary, point out the difference to your friend. In Christ, we do have a choice in how we grieve.
Eventually, and I would think this is very difficult with loss of a child, you'll see them Reframe their outlook . Be patient with your friend, this could take years. Losing faith may be part of this. Don't abandon them. Pray that God will re-construct their faith. Walk with them through this dark and angry time. Or perhaps they'll nurture and love their other children more, perhaps they'll advocate for a social issue they're concerned about. Even though we have hope in our Lord who cares for us and watches over us, our feelings fail. Your friend's feelings will, too. Help them discover the huge difference between faith and feelings, and find out how looking at this tragedy in the framework of heaven can release the stranglehold of grief.
Rebuild their life Most people do not understand the huge adjustments that survivors have forced upon them. But since you've been through your own grief, you'll know that there are many facets of loss. There will be identity issues. Your friend is not so and so's Mommy or Daddy anymore. Finances, lifestyle, health, marriage and family relationships may suffer. Realize that you might be the one person who will understand that their life has changed forever.
Give them opportunity to Relax and rest in the Lord. As a widow, you know the heavy load and burden of a broken heart. The fatigue, sleeplessness, constant adrenal drain, false guilt and utter exhaustion of grief. You know how easy it is to forget how it feels to be happy. But you also know how important it is to give these challenges up to the Lord. You know it's okay to seek and yearn for "normal." Help provide some "normal" and "fun" experiences for your friend when the timing is right. Assure them it's okay when they start to laugh and then shut down. Don't demand game face 24/7. Don't demand progress or moving on. You be the one they can come to and to fall sleep on your sofa. You be the one who will carry them to the Lord. God will give you the strength. He will meet you in unexpected, never dreamed of ways. Follow this roadmap, but continually relax and rest in Him. After all, He is still the Way, the Truth and the Life.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good and informative. So many have it in their hearts to help, but are not sure how or what's the best way to help. This is such a great resource.

    ~Cathy

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am not always able to reply but your remarks mean a lot to me and will appear as soon as possible.

Here are some tips for commenting:
Remember to click the Publish button.
Choosing the anonymous identity is easiest if you do not have your own blog.
Using a computer rather than a cell phone seems to work better. Thanks again!