A friend of mine received a devastating blow the other day when she found out her son had died unexpectedly. Since then, I’ve been filled with worry and grief for her. Like so many of my pals these days, she lives far away from me. I can’t go to her and give her a hug, which is always my first reaction. With all the connectedness we get from the online world, it will never replace human contact.
So what can I do for this friend? I pray for her. I think of her. I invite her to send me her thoughts via email or to call. I try not to pester her by constantly asking how she’s doing, but I know I am probably doing that anyways. If I was there, I’d be cleaning her house and cooking too many meals and pestering her in a different way. My worry brings out the mother hen in me.
What can you do when a friend is hurting? I feel very helpless. I get angry that this has happened to her. I think that sometimes I really don’t understand life. And then I take all those thoughts and lay them out for God. He knows I have them anyways, of course, but I ask Him all these things. I’m sure God is tired of hearing me be continually confused at the ways of the world. I wish I was the type of person that just accepted things without question, but I never have been. I suppose that He made me that way and maybe He doesn’t mind my questions.
I feel very much at a loss as to how to comfort my friend. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, and I know I will, because every time I have dealt with something devastating, that is exact what people have done to me. It’s what we do. We try, and in doing so we slip up sometimes, even when we don’t want to. When my dad died, it was a horrible tragedy and yet people who didn’t even know me were telling me about how much he loved me, even though everyone knew by then that he was a horrible drunk who verbally abused me my whole life. Did I want to hear that? Was it even true? All I could do was roll my eyes.
I don’t want my friend to have to roll her eyes at my efforts at comfort. I know she’s probably hearing all kinds of things right now and I wish we could all just tell her the one thing that would make her feel better, but I know it doesn’t work like that.