I joke with my people that there should have been caution tape on all entrances to my house: “Caution: Enter at your own risk.” Grief in action is messy, by its very nature. Because trauma, by its very nature is overwhelming. As in all your coping skills, ways of thinking, and Christianese don’t keep up. And the only way out is grieving and grief is messy.
In a society that values moving through things quickly, truncating even what emotions are “acceptable,” we need help! Especially us emotionally-phobic Christians. Not so that those of us that are grieving change, but so that we can enter into the mess well with each other. Because those of us that are traumatized are not necessarily isolating, but may be self-protecting against others that are more afraid of our grief than we are. (And we are terrified of it.)
My best friend, from her own overwhelming grief process, started a list of wise and simple advice for those offering support. It got my wheels turning. Because it is HARD to authentically grieve while still engaging community, and those are two passions of mine rolled up in one. The first three are hers, the last two are from my experience and talking with other friends too.
#1- Do reach out. Write a note, leave a phone message, type an email or text message.
#2 – Don’t expect to hear back. Instead, consider another kind note.
#3 – Don’t mention God. Or – I would say it this way – don’t give advice. Of any kind.
#4 – Don’t assume or draw conclusions. Very little of what you see is permanent.
#5 – Don’t take things personally. Grief is ripe with bucket loads of projection; enter at your own risk.