Some Suggestions To Help Those in Grief
I would sooner bring a blanket than flowers and cards to offer genuine comfort for someone in grief. A new cozy throw can say ‘it’s okay to be not okay’ without having to put it into words. As one who adores cards I have learned through my own grief that cards didn’t help (I read them, but not until much later). If you bring flowers, bring them IN a vase or be ready to find one and cut the flowers for it. Don’t let your grieving friend prep the flowers themselves because that’s not helping the situation; it’s making them work (of course they might love the distraction of doing it, so just be aware).
Bring them food but don’t expect it to be eaten right away. Offer it and if not wanted immediately, put it in their fridge. Bring sandwiches and fresh fruit for easy snacking, and small containers of casseroles or meals that can be heated later (label contents and add directions if needed). Small nutritious meals are the best but perhaps some decadent comfort foods can help get them to eat something. Also bring nutritious beverages like tea and juice (or good coffee, but it’s wise to avoid alcohol – in my experience anyways; hangovers just make everything worse).
Allow the silence. Words mostly fail during times of tragedy anyways but being nearby can help more than you may realize. Be there without fussing over them (unless of course that comforts them but for me and many others, please don’t fuss or be too busy). Let them cry if they need to, or sleep, or rant even. Just listen. Make some tea, watch something together or sit in silence. Read on your own, and let them stare or sleep. Perhaps even reading out loud to help them fall asleep on the couch. There’s tremendous healing to be found and comfort to be offered in just being with someone.
Pray. For yourself. For your friend who is in grief. For everyone in and around the situation. People you might know and those you’ve never met. Survivors who were there. The victims’ families and loved ones. Emergency responders and doctors. Everyone who’s been affected. Pray to find your connection with Source, with God. Whatever word you use and whether you turn to the scriptures or chime a bell and meditate deeply or spend time doing yoga or going for a walk. Whatever works to bring you closer in contact with the highest, brightest source of light and love within your heart, do that! Pray so that you may shine healing Love onwards and outwards. Radiate the biggest feelings of compassion you can generate. It’s important and it helps, I believe, more than we can comprehend or realize. Praying is one of the most essential things you can do to help after a tragedy.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.” ~Edith Hamilton
Click to view images on a Pinterest board I’ve compiled about grief
From an excellent article on helping the grieving at HelpGuide.org:
Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved
▪ “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
▪ “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
▪ “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
▪ “He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
▪ “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” his or her loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
▪ Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”
Be the one who takes the initiative. There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person.
You can offer to:
▪ Shop for groceries or run errands
▪ Drop off a casserole or other type of food
▪ Help with funeral arrangements
▪ Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
▪ Help with insurance forms or bills
▪ Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
▪ Watch his or her children or pick them up from school
▪ Drive him or her wherever they need to go
▪ Look after their pets
▪ Go with them to a support group meeting
▪ Accompany them on a walk
▪ Take them to lunch or a movie
▪ Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” ~Isak Dinesen
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” ~Peter Marshall
“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog; the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
“A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes,
whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.” ~ Victor Frankl
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” ~George MacDonald
“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness,
or else forgiving another.” ~Jean Paul
“When tragedy strikes, our first human response is to react in anger and with rage in our hearts, to attempt to end such dark behavior by throwing more darkness at the problem. Yet our rational minds tell us that reacting with darkness in the form of hatred and madness simply expands and multiplies the darkness. The only answer to so much darkness is to bring light. As Saint Francis of Assisi reminded us, Where there is darkness, let me bring light.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer [source]
Let us pray and help bring light to this time of sadness and darkness for Calgary, Alberta. Rest in peace Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura. My prayers are with all affected by this tragedy. Here are prayers from Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
Prayer For The Victim of Violence
I have been wounded in body and soul.
My memories, my thoughts, dear Lord, are full of horror, and I am powerless to heal them.
The hatred I feel,
The pain I feel,
Is beyond my ability to deal with.
Please, dear God,
Come into my mind with your spirit, dear God,
Please wash me clean.
Take out of me this sword.
Take out of me this wound.
Take out of me this pain.
Help me forgive,
For it is beyond my power to do so myself.
Release the one who did this
And release, dear God, my heart.
I need new life.
Please give me this.
Thank you, Lord.
Prayer For The Perpetrator
“While we strive to heal the world, the darkness is putting up a massive assault on the planet. God’s healing must extend itself, not to heal light but to heal the darkness. The perpetrator of violence may or may not be consciously horrified by his own behavior. For those who are, that horror does not always lead to the cessation of criminal behavior. As with any addictive pattern where the drive toward certain behavior overwhelms and drowns the yearning of a human conscience, it is only through the power of a genuine spiritual awakening that the deepest darkness is turned to light. For the perpetrator of wrong action, the need for prayer is great indeed. God hears all prayers. He judges no one.” ~Marianne Williamson, Illuminata p.237
I recognize the evil of my behavior.
I ask forgiveness for the pain I’ve caused to others.
Forgive me, God, and cleanse my heart.
May God cast out this evil from within me.
May I be returned somehow, through Your grace, dear God, to the ways of goodness.
Please bless and protect those who have been victims of my perpetration.
May my life be somehow lifted up that I might be redeemed and receive from You the chance to live the rest of my life on the path of good, through the grace of God and in service to humanity forever and forever.
One of my teachers for decades has been author Alan Cohen, and today I’m sharing a special excerpt from his wonderful book A Deep Breath of Life. May you enjoy, and may all of us learn to live from a place of thankfulness and thereby enrich the quality of our lives, and the world. Namaste. Gina