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What To Say When Someone Has Lost a Loved One

28 Oct

I know, this is not a very happy topic to talk about.

Recently I have been invited to several weddings and attended several funerals. To me, saying congratulations is so much easier than offering condolences. Many time, I just don’t know what to say… And when sister Frances Soong from my care group shared about “What To Say When Someone Has Lost a Loved One” in our group chat, I gain a better understanding on the Dos and Don’ts for someone who has lost a loved one. With her permission, I am sharing the article she wrote, in a hope that it would benefit you too.

At one time or another, everyone will be in the position of needing to comfort a friend who has lost a loved one. It can be very difficult to know what to do or say. If you have never lost someone close to you, it may be hard to determine what would provide comfort.

After losing my daughter to a car accident, there were some things that comforted me and other things that actually hurt more than they helped, despite them all being well-intentioned. I do feel that after going through that, I can better minister to others who are going through something similar. In this article I will share some of the things that I learned in hopes that you will be able to use some of the suggestions when you are called on to comfort a friend who has lost a loved one.

Note that I am not a trained counselor or psychologist and have not studied the various information on death and dying such as the stages of grief. I can only speak from personal experience and share my views after going through the most devastating time of my life.

Don’t: Say You Understand

Unless you have gone through the exact type of loss your loved one is experiencing, don’t try to tell the hurting friend that you understand. The truth is, you really don’t simply because you can’t. There’s nothing wrong with not understanding the grief but wanting to sympathize. In this case, it is far more comforting to hear “I can’t even imagine,” rather than “I understand what you’re going through” which may come across as insincere.

It comes down to just being very honest about what you can and can’t understand but letting the person know that you acknowledge their pain at the very least.

Don’t: Ask How He or She is Doing

Don’t ask your friend how they are doing—you can answer that yourself: they are not doing well.

This is a common thing to do and instinctively the first thing that may come to mind. While you do care and are just trying to help, this phrase does not help and puts the hurting friend in a position of saying they’re “fine” even though they are not. Alternatively they could also end up blowing up and saying something like “Of course I’m not fine,” or “How do you think I’m doing?”

When I was going through my loss, another father who had lost two daughters of his own told me to tell my friends: instead of asking me how I’m doing, ask “Are you hanging in there?” That is something I could answer truthfully, and by admitting that I was hanging in there it gave me a bit of strength. I have used this phrase many times since then when talking to friends who were going through a loss or divorce or illness, and it always brought a smile or a knowing look.

Do: Show Your Feelings

Show your feelings. It’s okay to cry with them.

The Bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn. If you are hurting for them, it’s okay to cry with them. It meant a great deal for me to see tears in the eyes of my friends. While I knew they didn’t understand what I was going through, their tears meant that they loved me and that they hurt because I hurt. The tears of a friend also gave me the freedom to let it all out and not apologize or try to control my emotions when I really just needed to cry.

Don’t: Force Them to Talk

There are times when a grieving person needs to talk and there are times when they just need to cry. Don’t force them to talk about how they are feeling or tell them they need to “get it out.” There may come a time later that they may need to talk to a professional if they are keeping too many feelings bottled up, but right after the loss is not that time. They may need you to be with them even if they are quiet. That’s the best you can do in that case—just sit with them and let them know that you’re there by doing that.

Do: Talk About Their Loved One

I can only speak about the loss of a child but right after the loss as well as now, it makes me so happy to hear one of my friends talk about my daughter and especially to say and hear her name.

It is normal for you to feel like you will upset the hurting friend by not bringing up the loved one or trying to make them think about something else. However the truth is that it is actually comforting to hear someone speak about the loved one. Right after my loss and even more so today, it gives me such joy to hear someone talk about my daughter and especially to say and hear her name. I’m not sure why hearing her name is so comforting but I have talked to several other parents who have also lost a child and they have reported the same thing. It may be that after losing a child, a parent has a fear of the child being forgotten. This way, she or he is kept alive and remembered through the conversation and memories.

Don’t: Tell Them They Will be Okay or that Time Will Heal the Wounds

In short, don’t use any of the cliches that are typically used such as telling them they will be okay, that time will heal all wounds, that it was just meant to be or similar such remarks. The exception to this is if it comes from someone who has truly been through the same kind of loss. For example, one mother who had lost both her son and daughter in an auto accident years earlier, came to my house the day after I got home from the hospital and looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You will be okay.” I looked at her and saw in her eyes that she had experienced the same devastating fear and pain that I was feeling and knew I could trust her. I held on to those four words for a very long time.

Personally, the hardest thing for me to hear was that time would heal all wounds or that I would get better with time. Thinking about the future without my daughter brought fear and dread. What really helped was just to have my friends acknowledge that I was in pain and that they were there for me.

Do: Continue to Be There for Them After Everyone Else Has Gone Back to Their Normal Life

The weeks following the accident were filled with cards, visits, phone calls but as the weeks turned into months people just normally go back to their daily life while the hurting person is still hurting and in need of those same things – cards, visits and phone calls. The first few weeks I was in shock and although I was hurting I hadn’t completely grasped the loss or the loneliness. As the brevity of the event sets in I needed those things more than ever and I am thankful for the friends who have continued to minister to me even to this day.

🙏 Praying for those who are going thru the most difficult moments of their lives. No word can express it but take comfort in His presence . He will walk thru and go through with you.

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

14 Oct

mother and babies in pool

[A Legacy Of Character And Faith]

I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don’t.

I felt you kiss me good night and I felt loved and safe.

I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but its all right to cry.

I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything I could be.

I watched you, and I learned most of life’s lessons I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

I looked at you and wanted to say, ‘Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.’

This was an article I read online written by an unknown author. And it reminds me of being the best version of myself, because my children will follow exactly what I am doing, even when I thought they are not looking. Many times, being mothers means we are in a very important position to help our children to grow up happy, achieving their full potential and contributing to the world. As beautiful as it may sound, but it is not easy at all. Especially to remain calm in the midst of storms and to stay strong in face of struggles. And that is why I always say, “when you have children, you are going to meet a better version of thyself“, cos’ you just have to.

Titus 2:7And here you yourself must be an example to them of good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect your love of the truth and the fact that you are in dead earnest about it.

I hope you will be encouraged by these words just as I do (and that’s why I am sharing it here). If tomorrow belongs to our children, then we need to do our best and equip them to adequately handle the challenges of the future.

Thank you so much for reading!

XOXO Eryn

The Story of the Three Trees

9 Jul

Hello Everyone!

How’s your week so far?

This week has been real challenging for me as Isabelle is having cold and becomes very clingy; at the same time I am trying to figure out a better warehouse management system implementation with minimal cost… However, in challenging time like this, it often makes me think about life from a different perspective.

Today I would like to share with you a favourite story of mine.

The Story Of The Three Trees

Millionmars De Era 4

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said,

“Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.”

Then the second tree said,

“Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”

Finally the third tree said,

“I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the Hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said,

“This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a Carpenter”, and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said,

“This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened
because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come
true. One of the Woodsmen said, “I don’t need anything special from my tree, I’ll take this one”, and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed
box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. his dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark..

The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said “Peace” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

Millionmars De Era 2

The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don’t always know what God’s plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Millionmars De Era 1

Sometimes, like the three trees, when reality hits, we forgot about our dreams… This story reminds me to be always hopeful and trust that He remembers, and will make it come true in His perfect timing.

Thank you so much for reading.

God bless you.

XOXO Eryn

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