I was reading an article today on how to support a friend who is experiencing grief and it reminded me of how I grappled with this. Earlier this year, my aunt lost her baby due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck too tightly and cutting off his oxygen. She was 39 weeks pregnant and in full anticipation of meeting her new baby boy. As can be imagined, this was extremely traumatic for our entire family but especially for her, her husband and their other two children. I’ll never forget the phone call I received from my mother-in-law the day it happened. We all were outside playing and I came in to see that I had a couple missed calls from her. I immediately called back because I figured she was probably trying to give us an update on my aunts delivery. The three words she said still haunt me to this day…”the baby died”. I just stood there in disbelief for a moment because I couldn’t really process what I had just heard. I couldn’t believe this was happening to someone so close to me. Our family immediately went to the hospital to be with my aunt. I had feelings of grief, guilt and disbelief. Guilt because I had just given birth six weeks earlier and I just didn’t want to go there with my baby when she had just lost hers. I have never been good at dealing with grief. I never know what to say, how to act, what to do or how to respond.
When we went to the hospital and I saw my aunt I couldn’t even imagine what she was going through. I was floored at her strength as they prepared her to give birth. No one can be prepared for losing a child after carrying them for 9 months and then having to give birth but in Lamentations 3:22-23, the prophet says that it is of the Lords mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. It was extremely evident to see God’s faithfulness through her that day. I didn’t sleep at all that night. Most of the night was spent praying and just still in disbelief, as my own child lay sleeping on my chest. A couple days later, they held a memorable for my little cousin at the hospital and again I was so apprehensive about going up to the hospital with my baby because I felt a sense of guilt. I was a total emotional mess. I couldn’t keep it together to save my life. When they wheeled her out of the room, I couldn’t even look because I just didn’t want to see my little cousins lifeless body for fear I would just lose it and I knew we were supposed to be there to comfort my aunt and her family. Again, her strength just amazed me and while everyone else was being the rock she needed, I was in a corner somewhere still trying to wrap my mind around why I was there in the first place.
After she got home, I wanted to run over there to see if she needed help with anything, or just to comfort her. I wanted to send her a card or call her to see how she was doing…but I didn’t. Even though I wanted to do all these things I didn’t. I was always afraid I would say the wrong thing, or I would make her relive it all over again by talking about it. I wasn’t quite sure what to do so I did nothing. Believe me when I say that is the worst thing I could have done, and the worst thing anybody can do. Due to my own selfishness worrying about what I would do, I neglected to see that she just needed support more than anything else. Even if that meant I just went over there and looked stupid the entire time it was better than not showing up at all. James 2:20 says faith without works is dead and all my intentions meant nothing because my fear paralyzed me from acting out on any of them. God did not give me the spirit of fear so I should have recognized what I was feeling was not from Him. My sister-in-law politely reminded of this some days later through a text telling me that anything is better than nothing. Needless to say I felt horrible and realized I needed to get over myself and do what God called me to do in Romans 12:15 and 2 Corinthians 1:4 and mourn with those who mourn and comfort her in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. I know from experience that just the presence and concern of others helps tremendously! I experienced a traumatic even in 2007 and I experienced both sides of the spectrum that impacted me tremendously. There were family and friends that were extremely comforting by being present, praying with me and for me, calling me and checking in on me and then there were some very close family members who to this day have never even acknowledged it happened. And the latter kinda hurt me but I realize they were probably reacting the same way I reacted, not knowing what to say so not saying or doing anything at all.
The best thing we can do in a situation where someone is experiencing grief is to be there for them. Mourn with those who mourn! Whether it’s through a phone call, a card, your presence, a text, whatever…something is better than nothing!