Mourning With Those Who Mourn

GUEST POST by MELISSA TURNEY

Rosalie and I met in Russia back in 2006 while volunteering for the International Language Program. We were immediately knit together, convinced that despite our different upbringings, we were kindred spirits on the same path. Both of us were engaged to be married upon arriving home from our adventure. We were even getting married within a week of each other. We spent late nights talking about our loves and planning our weddings together. 

Though we would never again live in close proximity (I lived in Nevada, while Rosalie was in California) we communicated daily, swapping newlywed wisdom and worries. We leaned on each other through our struggles and rejoiced together in our successes as we continued together down that same path. Through the years we shared joys and sorrows both big and small. The births of our babies, promotions, buying our first homes along with financial hiccups, navigating the occasionally rough seas of marriage and parenthood, and the loss of her daughter. I guess you could say we were growing up together in our young adulthood. We were more than friends. We were almost sisters. 

The moment I received the message saying please pray, Jango bit Hunter, I knew it was going to be bad. However, I was not prepared for what was to follow. Sleepless nights, fervent prayer, faith that Hunter’s injuries would be miraculously healed, confusion, and disappointment when the answer to those prayers was no. 

To watch someone you love experience heartache and not be able to offer relief is excruciating. I felt overwhelmed by helplessness and guilt. Helplessness because how in the world can you come close to relieving that kind of intense pain. Guilt because my life in comparison was untouched by grief. Guilt because as much pain as I felt for her, I couldn’t take it away from her. 

I remember sobbing with her on the phone one morning, trying to offer words of comfort. She said to me, “I needed to talk to you because you always know exactly what to say.” I was shocked. Absolutely floored. Because the truth was I felt like I could never find the right words. 

Walking through an intense period of grief with someone who has suffered loss can be incredibly awkward and painful. It is difficult to walk the line of support without overstepping into spiritual bypassing (everything happens for a reason) or giving way to utter despair (life sucks, then you die). We might stumble our way through comfort. We’ll definitely make mistakes. The most important thing I’ve learned is that no matter how we might feel about our own abilities, we must show up.

Paul tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). While it is easier to rejoice with others, to mourn is a privilege, and it is a vital part of how we minister in this earthly existence. 

Here are some ways I’ve learned to minister through grief: 

  1. Provide something tangible or practical like a meal, running errands, or offering to babysit. Show up. 
  2. Make yourself available to talk–and then mostly listen. 
  3. Come to the table with grace. Everyone grieves differently and this is not a time to judge how or when they express grief. 
  4. Continue to maintain support in the aftermath. Perhaps set reminders in your phone for milestones or anniversaries that might be difficult for your friend, and make sure to reach out on those days.  

We’ve all heard the saying “there is light at the end of the tunnel.” Don’t wait at the end of the tunnel, coaxing your loved ones into the light. Stand together in the darkness, hand in hand.

Melissa and I in Paris. A huge rainstorm had just poured down on us and we wanted to document the delight in running through Paris in the rain.

2 thoughts on “Mourning With Those Who Mourn

  1. What a beautiful guest post and a testimony to what friendship can be, what it can do for us in both the best and the worst of times. The list of ways to minister through grief is a wonderful guide for those who have the heart to provide true support yet sometimes come up empty-handed. This can happen even to those of us who have experienced tragedy. Thank you.

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  2. Yes, she wrote it so beautifully and I love the list she provided. And I agree that we can give back even if we are the ones who have experienced tragedy. I would also say that most of us have a deeper insight into what is needed.

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