Some of the bereaved parents I know have had difficulty dealing with family members who say hurtful things or may tell them they should “be over it by now”. They feel so alone when others seem to not understand how grief affects a person.
I am grateful that I have not had to deal with any of that; our friends and family have been wonderful. They are patient and kind. Many of them try to understand our grief even if they cannot truly know what it is like unless they, too, have experienced the death of a child. I appreciate the love they have shown us. It has helped me heal.
Unfortunately, I know this is not the case for every bereaved parent. Friends and family can say hurtful things. They want us to get over it already. They are tired of our sadness. They truly care and want us to be happy. They simply do not understand that the death of a child changes one forever. It is like they cannot see clearly our pain or that we need time and God to heal. They cannot understand that it takes time to heal a broken heart.
We may be trusting God. Our faith may be stronger than ever. We may be praying and studying the Word more than we did before. But that does not mean we are not still hurting or that we won’t burst into tears at odd moments. Part of us will grieve until we reach Heaven, and that can be difficult for others to understand. They can say hurtful things while sincerely trying to be helpful.
Below is what I shared with one gal who had had an especially difficult day — folks had been mean and hurtful. Their words made her feel alone and unable to deal with her grief.
For those still struggling with grief and who have had others say hurtful things, maybe these words will help you in dealing with family and friends while grieving.
It seems so unnatural to bury our children.
And when family or friends say unkind things, even with the best of intentions, it hurts. It is easy to take offense at the words of others.
Please remember that we are not the first, nor will we be the last, to bury our child. We can learn from how others walked this path. We can try to grieve well. We have Biblical examples of how others grieved; let us learn from them.
The first parent to face the death of a child was Eve. She had two sons. And one son killed her other son. That momma was experiencing some very real pain and grief. Talk about family issues! They had issues that could lead to blaming and harmful words, but there is no indication in the Bible that this happened. When Eve gave birth to Seth, she acknowledged that God gave her another son. She knew that God is the source of life.
David sinned against God with Bathsheba. She had a son. I won’t go into the whole thing, but the child died. After hearing about his son’s death, David went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He knew the Lord had allowed his son to die, yet he worshiped Him! He continued to live and worship God.
Job’s children were all killed. His response? He tore his robe, shaved his head and fell to the ground in worship! He declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Scripture says that “through all this, Job did not sin nor did he blame God”. And he had some stupid friends; they gave him terrible advice!
Please know that Our Father understands our grief; He saw His son die a terrible death. He was rejected by men and scorned prior to death. Our Father knows our pain. God knows rejection. He knows grief. He knows what it is to have folks be angry with you and treat you wrong. Yet He loves every one of those who harmed His Son and rejected Him.
There is only one healthy way to deal with our issues during our grief: We must continue to trust in our Creator and our Savior. We must ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance and comfort. We must continue to walk a path of faith and grace.
When family or friends say hurtful things, we must forgive them and extend grace knowing they just don’t understand.
I choose to believe that they either meant well and the words came out wrong, or that they are hurting themselves and are unable to be kind. I choose to forgive them right away and not think about it anymore. I choose to not talk about it or spread my pain to others.
We must trust that God will help us in dealing with the difficult issues we may have with family and friends.He will never leave us or forsake us. His promises are amen and amen.
What have you found helped you deal with friends and family who don’t understand your grief? What has helped you as you walk this road?