I’m Sorry, But I will Not Call Them


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….

  • pray
  • 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.


7 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, But I will Not Call Them

  1. I like how you said a friend nearby who feels inadequate is better than a stranger who is an expert. This advice can be applied to all kinds of life situations. The vast majority of our “friends” on the internet will never know and understand us like our family and friends “with skin on”who are close at hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathleen, I agree with you. I don’t think a call from a complete stranger would be welcome. I think I would feel obligated to respond positively, whether I wanted to or not.

    I also think it’s somewhat of an imposition on you to be expected to respond to these requests. Like you have all the time in the world, know all the answers, will bring instant relief to the grieving person.

    No pressure, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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