When tragedy hits somebody in our circle of friends, oftentimes we don’t know what to do. Should we call? Should we go over to that person’s house? Leave her alone altogether?
I remember when a friend tragically delivered a stillborn baby. After the birth, I texted her to see if she wanted visitors. I was shocked when she told me that she hadn’t had ANY visitors (other than grandparents) still a day after her loss. It broke my heart! I don’t think her close friends were being heartless; they probably just assumed she didn’t want visitors. But, in reality, this grieving mother and father in that stale, darkened hospital room, felt so alone in their grief and actually longed to be acknowledged and comforted by their friends.
I hear this happening so often. With good intentions of “giving people space” we often miss wonderful opportunities to show love and compassion to our friends. My grandmother always said that when a good friend gets terrible news she’s probably not in a state of mind to think about asking for support or help. So my grandmother’s rule of thumb was to “just go” and if that person doesn’t want company, she will graciously let that be known (and no hurt feelings on our part will be felt!).
So how do you know if you are considered a “close enough” friend to go or not? If you would count this person (or she would count you) as one one of her five closest friends, then you should probably go be with them during their initial hours and days after a tragedy. Not the entire time, of course. Just visits as you deem appropriate.
So what should you do if you go? Don’t try to offer shallow words of comfort. Just be with her. Hold her hand. See what needs to be done and do it for her. Whether it’s stocking her refrigerator with food and drinks or perhaps picking up the dry cleaning and dropping it on the front porch. Or maybe it’s coordinating with her other friends additional chores that need attention. If she has family in town, then a lot of these things will be taken care of by them. If not, then it’s really up to her close friends to tend to her needs.
We all want friends like this, don’t we? I will write more on these things in upcoming posts, but the bottom line is this: it means a great deal to those that are suffering to have their closest friends nearby in those initial days of shock. My friends who were present with me through my darkest days are still my dearest friends. I still get tears thinking of how just by showing up they showed me so much love.
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