In the past month I’ve had four people reach out to ask me to call the mother of a young person who died. They were asking me to minister to their grieving friend whom I’ve never met.
I’m sorry your friend lost their child. I’m sorry they are grieving. I really am. But, no, I will not call them. I will not call a grieving mom I don’t know, especially in the early weeks of grief. Even if they said it would be okay for you to have me call.
In my experience, having a stranger call unexpectedly to talk about grief when you are in the throes of loss feels invasive, not helpful.
And not one single time in seven years has a grieving parent who did not know me called me after a mutual friend gave them my number. Not once. We who grieve rarely find more comfort in calling a stranger than in having a friend we know sit with us.
A friend who has no experience in loss is still more comfort than a stranger who’s an expert.
I don’t know the family. I don’t know where they are emotionally or spiritually. I don’t know who is with them or what they are doing. My unexpected call may interrupt something like a family gathering or funeral planning. My call may come in the middle of very emotional or volatile situation. I don’t want to intrude on a family during those times.
Perhaps it would be better for you to minister to your friend. You know them. I don’t. They know you. They don’t know me.
I understand you want to help them. I understand you feel inadequate. But trust me. You can love your friends much better than I can.
If you know a family who has recently lost a child….
- take a meal
- send handwritten notes
- give gift cards to area restaurants
- be available
- attend the service
- send pictures you have of their child
- ask about their favorite memories
- listen without judgment or advice
- sit silently with them
Be their friend. Be the church.
You know them. I don’t. You can love them up close and personal.
I can and will pray for them.
You may also want to give them information about While We’re Waiting, a Christ centered support group for bereaved parents.
Maybe offer to watch their pets or other children while they attend a Parents Weekend at the While We’re Waiting Refuge.