“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows . . .”
—John 16:33 (NLT).
If Jesus told us to expect grief and loss, why is it so difficult when we find ourselves grieving? Why do we have such a hard time comforting others when they are grieving? Why is it seemingly impossible to cling to the rest of the verse, “..but take heart, because I have overcome the world”?
The journey of grief is difficult because we all experience it differently. So, when someone close to us grieves, we can find it difficult to move towards the person and empathize. We see and feel it differently than they do. So, what do you do when someone in your small group experiences loss?
Follow Jesus' Lead
By taking a look a Jesus’ life on earth, you can get good idea of how to move toward someone's grief. Jesus was compassionate, He gave people worth, provided hope, and emphasized peace of mind. Jesus prayed and had the power of the Holy Spirit within him. As a result, he was a light in the darkness.
He pointed people towards truth in times of need:
“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
—John 14:27 NLT.
“What is the price of two sparrows - one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows”
When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, you were given the power of the Holy Spirit. If you try to help people out of your own strength, you'll make mistakes. Rely on the power and wisdom of God through the Holy Spirit within you.
One practical thing to think about is the time table grief usually runs on. Grief tends to intensify at three months, on special dates (for example, birthdays), and the one-year anniversary of the loss. Mark your calendars for those dates. Send a text or handwritten note that you’re praying for them, or deliver a homemade meal. These dates are important. Spotlight them with love.
Throughout this journey, don’t be afraid to ask the grieving person what they need. It's natural to worry that you'll stir unwanted emotions or overstep relationally, but you've been placed in this person’s inner circle. It's okay to ask. Yes, it’s messy, but it's an opportunity to shine light in the darkness and love like Jesus loves.
“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted”
—Matthew 5:4 NLT.
Ask for Help
If your group member’s need exceeds the capacity of the group, your church can provide added support. Reach out to a church staff member for more information.