Summary: Practical suggestions for helping people in grief

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I’m a liar. A big fat liar. Well, maybe not big fat lies, but at least little deceiving lies. The big fat part is that I keep telling the lie.

So many people have been so kind since my mom died on April 19, the day before Easter. With genuine concern and a desire to help, you have asked how I am doing. And, for the most part, I have responded to your generosity with a boldfaced lie. I have said, “I’m OK, I’m fine.”

The truth is, I am not doing so well. I have not slept well for the past two weeks. I eat too much and I have trouble concentrating. I am perpetually tired, nearly exhausted. I am functional, but at about 70% of my normal level.

My situation is not abnormal for someone in the early stages of grief. Everyone has different symptoms of grief. Some don’t eat at all, some over eat. Some can’t sleep and others sleep too much. Some withdraw from all outside contact. We get confused, forgetful, irritable, irrational, angry and very sad.

And many of us try to cover all that up. We fear that if we honestly answered the question, “How are you doing?” you might turn and run away in self defense if we began to spew emotionally like a volcano.

So, what do you do with us? How do you help someone who is going through a difficult time?

Let’s go to God’s Word for some answers.

Please turn to 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

I began planning this sermon two days after my mom died. Most of it is material that I wanted to share with you at some point. Now seemed a good time. Partly because it seems relevant, but mostly because is has been therapeutic for me to prepare and deliver this message.

Usually, people assume there are eloquent words that bring instant relief from suffering. There is a belief that there are professionals – poets, preachers, authors – who have been gifted with the ability to say just the right thing at just the right time.

Skills and know-how are not nearly as important as a genuine concern. The right words are really very simple and ordinary ones. Words like “I’m sorry,” and “I am praying for you.”

Let’s learn together from God’s Word What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say.

READ 1 Corinthians 1:1-11


One Sunday morning a preacher was making the point that death is a natural part of the life cycle. He quoted Genesis 3:19 saying that we came from dust and to dust we will return.

After the service, a five year old boy came running up to the preacher. All out of breath with excitement he asked, “Is it really true that we came from dust and return to dust.”

The preacher said, “That’s right, my boy. That’s what the Bible says.”

The boy replied, “Then you’d better get over to my house right quick and look under my bed because somebody’s either comin’ or goin’!”

Death is part of the cycle of life. Bad times come into the life of everyone. They certainly invaded the life of Paul. Take a look at verses 8-9 again. He uses words like hardships, suffered, great pressure, despair and more. He felt it was all beyond his ability to endure. In fact, he thought he was going to die.

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Jay Robison

commented on Aug 30, 2007

Thanks Erick for your careful expression of God's hope for hurting people like us. You were balanced in your exposition and practical approach. Great Job!

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