A Gift of Hope for People Who are Hurting.
A Gift of Friendship. Gifts for Those Who are Hurting from Loss.
We all face this eventually. What do we do? When a loved one or friend loses a family member, spouse, child, or close friend, what is our response.
I heard the other day that Hallmark, America's well-know greeting card company, is laying off employees and has closed down a distribution center. They are losing so many customers because we don't buy greeting cards anymore. A personal gift is still the most treasured item during heartache and loss, a card, a small give, a visit with a small treasure all lift spirits of those who are hurting.
Sometimes a family designates financial gifts, to go to a specific cause, but we hesitate to donate because we want our gift to be more personal. Then life goes on and we forget.
A hand written card may or may not be read for days or weeks, but it is the number one personal touch, adding a check for any amount of money really helps your friend or relative know you understand the costs that are ahead of them.
BEING GENUINE in your message is KEY
I found these clay figurines on Etsy and got them for a widow. I challenged her to get up every morning and place the figure on the mantel that best describes how she felt that day. She admitted she didn't move them often, but she did occasionally realize she was in different stages of grief and place one in the forefront.
Here's the seller's link on ETSY
And her description of these items on her Etsy store: TheMidnightOrange
Ib>"After years of reeling through something, it conceptualized in clay and allowed me to experience catharsis. One of the things I held onto during my own healing was the SARAH model: shock, anger, rejection/resentment, acceptance, healing/hope. When people grieve they move through these stages at different paces, and certainly not always in a linear fashion. Just the same, each stage is a normal part of the healing process and I imagine the owner of this set finding solace in relating to these tangible items which conceptualized their progression. The model is also known as (and more commonly referred to as) the Kubler-Ross model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).
This particular set can be made in any color, and each figure will have a red heart on its chest. If you would like it without the hearts, just let me know in the notes to seller, as well as your color preference for the figures. Your set will be created within 3 weeks of payment. "
Give your grieving friend a call.
It really is that simple. A phone call means you care.
A phone call says you took the time out of your "normal" day to recognize things are not normal in their day.
Calling, whether you talk or not says the grieving person is important and you made an effort to help.
When the phone rings any number of things can be going on, such as, finally catching a much needed nap, taking a long hot bath, a house full of friends or relatives, the phone ringer is turned off, talking on the phone is the last thing the grieving person wants to do, or the call may be answered.
Be prepared to keep it brief and say, from the heart, why you called.
How I helped my sister through her grief ...
when she became a widow.
I saw it coming.
I prayed it wouldn't happen.
I observed the dwindling, decaying, downward spiral of hope.
I fought reality and lost a battle of faith.
My own personal battle, trying to stay strong for my sister, knowing the inevitable was at hand, was second or 100th to the battle she was fighting minute by minute. I blogged some of the struggle. She posted on Caring Bridge. Her husband prepared for the illness and healing, ignoring pending death. His faith was huge. Reality hit all of us very hard.
I believe in divine healing. It is in the Bible. It is in our fellowship's doctrine. He was 100% healed. He has a new body, in Heaven.
The process of diagnosis, treatment, accepting the prognosis and dying and funeral were so overwhelming in the 18 months we endured, I can only describe it as grueling, heartwarming, growth, panic moments and peace all wrapped up into a huge rubber band ball the size of a building with each rubber band stretching and changing shape to be added, every one representing an emotion. So many more than a human thinks they can experience.
One of my favorite Bible Scriptures is a promise within a promise. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
"13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
A promise within a promise.
The scripture is quoted by people a lot. "No temptation has overtaken you. God won't let you be more tempted beyond what you can bear."
It's usually quoted:
God doesn't put more on you than you can bear.
Wow, that is a promise from God? That would make every hurting person wonder if God really exists or cares. We all think at some point that we've met our limit of grief or hurt or pain.
Here's the promise. God is in the solution!!
Read the above verse again and surmise the solution.
GOD PROVIDES A WAY OUT:
A Gift for Hurting People. Don't Guess What They Need, Ask!
Phone Calls and Sharing Scriptures Weekly Turned into a New Relationship.
My sister needed people to lean on.
My sister needed space.
My sister needed affirmation.
My sister needed hugs some days and no conversation on other days.
My sister needed to know she could call and someone would answer.
My sister needed to know we loved her no matter what stage of grief she faced each day.
My sister didn't know what she needed many times.
My sister needed scriptures.
My sister didn't need people quoting scriptures.
I dropped everything and stayed a few days after the funeral - we went shopping for yarn for a knitting project. She had a niece who moved in during the final stages of my brother-in-law's death. She was a great comfort, so I weighed how much I was needed in those few days. I waited a few weeks and went back. I helped her move into a small apartment, catch up on bills and sell and buy furniture.
I called often and left messages on voice mail, knowing all she wanted to do was sleep.
I gave her permission to schedule and/or cancel anything she wanted that included me.
I read and re-read her posts on Caring Bridge and all emails she sent during the dying and death of her husband.
We finally scheduled a mini-vacation on the one-year anniversary of his death. We did an overnight trip to Sedona, AZ, got a massage and went shopping. I think it helped some.
My grandson was also staying with us at the time, and he ministered to her by finding a scripture to read to her when they were alone. She got another grandson about 14 months after her husband's death, and the end of the story is a beginning.
She met a wonderful gentleman during the grief process, actually an old acquaintance was brought back into her life when he lost his wife. They stepped through grief together via phone calls and scripture verses and answered prayers, then cautiously met for dinner, compared notes, and began a beautiful relationship. Right at two years, they married. My husband had the honor of performing the ceremony. We have watched them lean on God and work through stuff with adult children, coach them on their new venture, and simply become sister and "new" brother-in-law again.
Gifts that may help
I think that the gift of figurines, and the gift of me, and the gift of patience and honesty were the best thing I could do in this case.
I never felt like I was successful at helping, although she insists I helped.
I'm sure I was obnoxious when I visited and made her skip the meds and get out of bed, but she says I helped.
I'm sure my advise was way off base, but she insists I was right on, and I know I annoyed her when I tried being silly, but she learned to laugh and we had some fun, and she appreciated that I dropped everything for time with her.
Oh my, I never want to be that needy, but yes, I know God is able to send all the right people and things if I ever am in that position.
Some people would love receiving a book ... - if your friend is a reader
or if your friend is seeking answers ...
The Gift of Understanding
It Can Be in the Form of a Hug, a Day Out, a Letter, a Card, a Call ...
I tried my best to document my emotions and heartfelt thoughts as the news came in of Norman's treatments. He actually was declared Cancer free the August before he died in January. It came back with a vengeance by October and when I went to help care for him I knew it was bad. I said my good-byes amidst the daily care of my sister and his nutrition needs. I made him the last meal he was able to digest, homemade potato soup.
Here is a link to a blog post I wrote when my Brother-in-Law died.
A Christmas Blog Post
3 weeks before my sister became a widow
This is a photo of me (left) with my two sisters the day our baby sister started Kindergarten.
Article on helping a grieving friend.
Helping Someone Who Is Grieving
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."-Helen Keller
Your presence is more important than anything you say. Don't assume you know how
they feel or what you can say to make it better. A hug and "I'm sorry" is usually enough.
Expect a wide range of emotions, including a sense of unreality in early grief. There is no
right or wrong way to feel, whether it is guilt, regret, relief, anger, sadness, or fear.
Listen attentively. At first, their talk may be mostly about the death. Later, they may talk
more about their loved one's life. Listen, even if they repeat their stories over and over.
Make specific and practical offers to help, such as, "Let me pick-up some groceries for
you when I'm at the store," rather than, "if there's anything you need, give me a call."
Don't try to lessen the loss with easy answers-"It's God's will," "They're better off now,"
"God needed a little angel in heaven," or "There must be a reason."
Remember there is no timetable for grief, so keep support ongoing. Also, don't rush them
to put away their loved one's belongings. They will when they're ready; then offer to help.
Share your positive memories of the deceased. It helps the bereaved relive past
experiences and feel connected to their loved one.
Let the bereaved know what you appreciate about them. Build them up and include them
in your life and activities. Self-esteem and a sense of identity suffer after a major loss.
Remember special days--holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. Mark them on your
calendar. These are likely to be difficult times for someone who is grieving.
Encourage professional help if you see any of the following warning signs: thoughts of
self-destruction, mounting anxiety, depression, or abuse of drugs and alcohol.
A Tribute to Pastor Herb Hull
Before we wandered into Bloomington First Assembly July 1978, Russ knew him as “the preacher who told corny jokes.” Pastor Herbregularly brought church ads to the local newspaper,where Russ was a photographer.
When we attended the church the first time Pastor Herb and Norma were on vacation. Our next visit Russ and Pastor Herb saw each other in the church basement before service and both said to each other, at the same time, “What are you doing here.” Oh I see that giant smile with his head tipped back as I remember this meeting in the hall.
He had known Russ as the shaggy hippie photographer at the newspaper. Before this encounter, Russ had come home and told me on occasion, “If I ever get the urge to go to church, I’d like to look up that pastor that tells the corny jokes.”
Our first Sunday night in that church, we dropped to our knees at the altar. God placed a godly man and his wife in our lives at a time when our marriage had all but dissolved. Hung-over and addicted, still extremely rough around the edges, we were accepted as family with no condemnation. Unconditional love was demonstrated continually. Conviction tugged on us as we were embraced by the sincere teachings, 3 point sermons with illustrations that make you shake your head, roll your eyes, nod or laugh out loud.
With Pastor Herb Hull at the helm, Sunday nights were packed with worship, ministry and altar time, but the after church event, back at the Hull household, was ice cream and a ballgame on T.V. Don, David and Dale adopted our two sons, Jim and Ken as if they were younger brothers. Off they went to the basement or outside to the basketball goal, while we sat at the kitchen table and soaked up every possible nugget of wisdom from Pastor Herb and Norma, all wrapped around a snack and a lot of jokes.
I believe Russ stopped by the church almost daily after our salvation, offering to help around the church and gleaning from Pastor’s wisdom by asking questions about the scriptures. Pastor Herb trusted him as usher, encouraged him to help with the nursing home Sunday school class, let him assist with the youth, and had him play his guitar and sing from the platform on the night of praise.
We lived about 14 miles from the church, out in the country. Our first winter, about 4 months after we came to the church, we had a very bad snow. We arrived at church on time, but no one was there. The church had been cancelled. There was a lot of teasing over this. Pastor said he’d never cancel again.
Pastor loved “dinners of 8.” We had the distinct honor of having Pastor and Norma in our group in our new home. He never stopped talking about the egg rolls I made, I don’t really think they were that good, but he was impressed.
I remember most Sunday evenings ending with “Victory in Jesus.” I smile anytime I think of that sweet smile on my Pastor’s face, as he was belting out each word, with a confidence that captured believer’s hearts and convinced sinners. “And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the Victory.”
14 months later, when they announced from the pulpit that they were taking a church in Oklahoma, I cannot remember ever crying that hard in a public place. I’ll admit, I got selfish and angry.
I made an appointment with Norma for one day that next week, with full intention of convincing her and Pastor Herb to stay. She had me come over to the house. When I arrived she led me straight upstairs where she was in the middle of packing boxes in one of the boy’s bedrooms. She got down on her hands and knees crawling around the bed, feeling under it for a shoe, missing from a pair, and gave me a living illustration of life in a pastor’s home.
Then she sat on the bed and looked at me and said something like, “We love these people here and they love us, but Pastor Herb knows he’s supposed to go to this new church, and I made a commitment a long time ago that I would go where he is called, he doesn’t need a wife that holds back and gives him grief.”
Enough said. Norma isn’t quick to hug and show emotion, so when we got a little weepy together that day, and I got a hug from her, I knew the move was inevitable and knew what I had to do.
I purposely used Norma and Pastor Herb as my example, made a new commitment to follow Russ’s calling where ever that would lead. We sold our house and left 2 months later for Bible College stepping into our first ministry 18 months after meeting Pastor Herb and Norma. They led us to Jesus, taught us the love of the Father, and demonstrated a Spirit filled life. They have been friends and mentors 33 years.
Through the years, every milestone, and every ministry decision has been made with their council, recommendations and full support. Pastor Herb is closer than a brother.
He considered His faith serious business, but walked it out demonstrating his belief that life was meant to be fun. He loved to tell stories to make a point. He was a joy in the pulpit and on a personal level. We knew we had an open invitation at the Hull-i-day Inn and stopping through has always been a highlight of our trip.
This tribute wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the pain he endured through the years. None of us know why he suffered so, but I’m certain he found a way to make peace with His Lord and his suffering. Pastor Herb was like that.
Pastor Herb, we love you and hope you know that without you, your sweet family, and your godly example, we truly don’t want to imagine where our family could be today.
Please share what you have done in the past to help someone who is grieving.