Once again this fellow-mourner, Melanie, has done a truly outstanding job in this post!
The number one reason I'm sharing this is to honor and thank the many of our FB friends, who have naturally and consistently done the very things she has listed here, from the very start.
The second reason is to inform those who earnestly want to know how they can be better friends to the folks in their lives who are devastated by the loss of a loved one.
A really huge one for me from this list is #5: Listen and Affirm. It means so VERY much to me to have friends in my life who are willing to do that!
And, if I may be so bold, to truly Listen and Affirm for me means they will resist the temptation to list all the other people they know who have also experienced the loss of a loved one, or have had a suicide or suicide attempts in their families or circle of friends, or have Lyme disease or loved ones with Lyme, etc.
It's not that I don't have any room in my heart to have compassion on someone else who is in pain; it's just that sometimes a person who is really struggling, maybe beginning to buckle under the weight of the sorrow and pain and stress, JUST NEEDS TO BE ALLOWED TO BE THE SOLE FOCUS for a minute or two or twelve (at least I feel that I do!)
Bringing up others you know who are suffering is certainly fair game and perfectly appropriate in its proper time and place, but, if I'm sharing at the moment that, hey, I'm really, really struggling with this RIGHT NOW, it can leave me feeling robbed of the uniqueness of my pain, and that my personal tragedy is not worthy of any special care and attention. It may seem to diminish or belittle what I am going through as it reduces me to just another of MANY sad stories you may know. That may not provide the kind of comfort a suffering person needs or craves at the time.
Again, I so thank all of you out there who care enough about nurturing others that you would bother reading these things and not resent folks like me for outright asking to be indulged. Sincerest thanks!
The Lord promises to personally comfort us in our suffering, and calls on us to pass on that comfort to others (II Corinthians 1:3-7). I've become convinced that there is enough pain and suffering and sorrow to be had in this world that we will ALL eventually get "our turn." No need to ever worry on that score!
And for those willing to go the extra mile, again I recommend our longtime friend, David Knapp, who has made this an area of specialization in his life and ministry. His very helpful book is "I Didn't Know What to Say." He also has several podcasts on specific areas, such as "grieving the loss of a child," etc. See griefreliefministries.com