Last week I shared a social media post about friendship in grief. We had just been out for dinner with our friends, Jay and Jodi Nemec, and I was reflecting on the thoughtful (and costly) ways they have walked by our side since Jackson died. I sat down to write a quick sentence or two, and 20 minutes later, a few paragraphs had poured out!! My first thought was to just send it to them and stick with putting out a simpler social media post, but I ended up sharing the whole thing because I wondered if it might be helpful for others to get a glimpse into some of the specific ways that two of our friends came alongside of us, specifically the bold questions they asked in an effort to learn how to best walk with us. The ways they pulled close when it would’ve been totally understandable for them to pull away.
People continually reach out to me about how to help others, not just grief, but in a variety of difficult situations. They often desire to help but worry that they will somehow add to the hurt by saying or doing something wrong. And to be truthful, that CAN happen, but usually it won’t. Usually any genuine act of kindness or thoughtful words will help because often it’s not the words that you say, or the specific thing that you did - it’s your presence. Your tender care. Your compassion. Your willingness to face the discomfort. Being brave enough to say something. Do something. To "sit on the mourning bench". To sit in the hospital room. To sit on the couch and cry with them. To show up, knowing that it may be terribly awkward and hard. It takes courage to walk into these kinds of unknowns.
Because the post seemed to resonate with so many people, I thought it might be worth sharing it here, on the podcast as well. So on this episode, I will read it, with a little commentary on the side. My desire in sharing something like this is never to diminish other friendships or other meaningful ways that people have rallied around us in grief. It’s just to give a specific example of how to come alongside of a hurting friend. I hope this helps just one person pull close to a friend when things get sad and uncomfortable.