Who Can Help People who are Grieving a Loss
The tendency is to think that the best person to minister to people who have suffered loss is the one who has experienced the same kind of hardship. True, this person can identify with and empathize with that particular kind of loss better. Notice, however, the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
The qualifying factor for ministering to those who have experienced any kind of loss is if you have known God's comfort in your life, not if you have gone through the same experience. Do not use your inability to identify with the exact loss as an excuse for lack of involvement. If you have known God's comfort, you have something to offer others.
People who will tend to devote the most time and energy into this kind of ministry are usually those who have the gifts of exhortation and/or mercy. We all, however, are commanded to comfort one another.
What People Need in Their Grief:
Each type of loss requires ministry in keeping with the needs of that kind of experience. Everyone, however, who has suffered loss of any type, needs attention to these basic needs in order to be comforted:
- Need for presence
People are important in times of suffering. Sometimes simply being there is enough.
- Need for plausibility
What people want and need is for someone to accept the reality of their feelings, someone to listen to their cries and take them seriously. If they don't find someone like this, they may internalize their feelings.
- Need for perspective
When they are ready, working through the Walk the Walk Even When It Hurts Devotional Guide with them could be a helpful tool to help them regain perspective.
- Need for practical assistance
While practical assistance is important, meeting physical needs due to the loss should not be the sole ministry extended by the church. People also need the comfort that comes through extending presence, plausibility, and perspective.
Also Check Out: Types of Loss
In the People Helping Ministry Manual you will find some additional thoughts on each of the above points and also a couple of case studies for you to think through what you would do to help people who have experienced loss.