I am officially stepping onto my soapbox now…
Here’s the thing.
At some point in your life, you will experience great loss.
A few times.
It still sucks.
A ministry family we greatly admire is experiencing just such a great loss at this very moment. We cannot be with them today, but we are hurting and in deep prayer for them. Of the loss we’ve experienced, we haven’t experienced their loss.
We have experienced some entirely asinine things being said in the name of comfort. This isn’t exclusive to this family’s circumstances, but it’s brought it to light again.
So my second thing is…
STOP SAYING STUPID THINGS TO FOLKS WHO ARE SUFFERING!!!!! I mean, like… Really. Just stop it.
If you aren’t sure what those stupid things are, here are a few examples and possible reactions you might receive (at least if you were trying to pass these words of “comfort” to me).
Stupid saying: “He/she is in a better place now.”
My reply: “REALLY?!?! He/she is not ME, so *I’m* in a WORSE place. SHUT UP.”
Stupid saying: “He/she is an angel now.”
My reply: It’s pretty much like the last one, so there’s no need to shout it again. Besides, this just sounds stupid. I mean, come on. We’re not all 6 years old. Shut up.
Stupid saying: “Just hold on to Jesus…”
My reply: Now, I know this is entirely true. But, do you really have to tell me this? Do you really think I’m in danger of losing my faith because of this? Not helpful. Shut up.
Stupid saying: “He/she lost his/her battle with…”
My reply: Why? Just… why? Don’t rub salt in the wound. Shut up.
Stupid saying: “You’ll be with him/her again one day.”
My reply: How the heck is that comforting?! I refer you to my first reply. Again, I say, shut up.
REEEEEEEALLY stupid saying: “God’s will be done.”
Me: “Um… do I *really* need to give you a theology lesson in the height of my grief?? Perhaps you should read your Bible more. Shut up.”
REEEEEEEALLY stupid saying: “God only gives you what you can handle.”
Me: Refer to the previous reply. Do folks even read their Bibles?? I mean… Seriously.
REEEEEEEALLY stupid saying: “God’s going to use this for His glory!”
Me: “Really, Dude?? You want to talk to me about how this situation is going to possibly be good … one day … when I’m in my deepest depths of despair?? I mean… Just… (Sigh.)”
And, I think the absolute most stupid thing you could possibly say: “I know how you feel.”
Me: “No. You don’t. You’re not me. This wasn’t your relationship. Shut up.”
The list goes on and on…
Now, here’s my list of appropriate things to say:
“I love you, I’m praying, and I’m here for you.”
That’s pretty much it.
“Can I take some food to you or run a few loads of laundry for you” is also appropriate. But if you do carry food or do a few chores, you keep your mouth shut! You hold that hurting person IF THEY ALLOW YOU TO. You cry with them IF THEY ALLOW YOU TO. You tell them they will be okay ONLY IF THEY ASK. Otherwise, you keep your mouth shut and you serve them as they hurt.
And if you’ve suffered a similar loss, you’ve earned a right not to say “I know how you feel”, but to say, “this was my process, here’s where I am now, I’m here for you”. I’ll throw that one in there too.
The truth is, we each wish we divinely had the words to say to bring comfort and healing in times of great loss and pain. The reality is, no such words exist from our mouths. That comfort and healing is only Divine and none of us possess that power. Not one.
So when someone is suffering such a magnitude of loss, don’t try to offer words of wisdom. It just pisses them off and can make them hurt more. Just love, pray, and be there for him/her.
Stepping down from soapbox.
In the meantime, Support the Ballestero Family.
They need an army of folks to love them and lift them spiritually and financially.