Sunday, December 30, 2007

What to Say

Our neighbor's wife passed away early this morning. We've been trying to contact him throughout the day today, but have had no success. I get so nervous about about saying the wrong thing in such a situation, that I sometimes think I shouldn't say anything at all! I read an Ensign article a few years ago, which was dedicated to just such a topic. I've searched for it for over 30 minutes and finally found it! I really found it helpful. I especially liked the following reminder:

Julia Holton Todd, Worthington Ward, Columbus Ohio North Stake

An experience a few years ago taught me a valuable lesson. A woman in my ward named Rebecca was expecting her fourth child. A few weeks before the delivery, she learned the baby had died. No one in the ward knew until the baby was born, and everyone was reeling in shock at the news. My husband told me I should visit Rebecca. Losing a child was my ultimate fear, and I couldn’t deal with her grief, let alone my own. So I didn’t do anything.

My mother, who was also in the ward, made a loaf of bread and went to visit Rebecca. But my mother later told me, “I wish I hadn’t gone. I just made it worse. I sat on her couch and cried the whole time.” I felt a little better about not visiting.

About a year later, at a ward party in the park, I happened to be sitting at the same table as Rebecca and a new sister in the ward. The new sister had also lost a baby, and I could hear them talking. Rebecca said, “The hardest thing for me was that almost no one did anything.”

I was overcome with guilt. I slid down the bench and said to Rebecca, “I was one of those who didn’t do anything. I just didn’t know what to do.”

Rebecca was forgiving, but she answered, “Well, no one did except your mom. She came over and we had a good cry together!”

My point is: do something! Just be there. Follow the Spirit and let your friend know you care, even if you think your efforts are inadequate. It’s nice to make brownies or bread or even dinner, but sometimes all they need is you.


love.boxes said...

Exactly. We love you and we're sorry is all you need to say. Hugs are good too. What a good post. It's good advice that we all will have to use at some point unfortunately.

Sarah said...

This comment proves to be timely. I will try to post about just how I will be in a "I wish I could help more" situation. Thanks for passing on what you found.

Jim said...

We unfortunately had the sad experience of losing a baby a couple of years ago. We didn't mind the visits and calls. We understood that no one really knew what to say, neither did we. Keeping it simple and honest is best, letting them know you care. The thing we found hard was that we were actually comforting others instead of them comforting us. It was hard (and weird) to try to deal with other people's grief when we could hardly deal with our own. I remember one visit was so bad that I went and mowed the neighbors lawn to escape (my poor wife wished she had gotten up first).