Responding To Heartache

When someone we love goes through something difficult we often don’t know what to do or how to respond. Of all people I am truly the worst about this. I am simply awkward when someone near me is experiencing heartache.  Should I say something? If I say something it might make it worse. What if I say the wrong thing? Maybe she is tired of people bringing it up. If I do say something, do I have to hug her? I don’t really like hugging people that much, but if she needs a hug I should give her one. What if she is like me and doesn’t really like hugs that much? Will it bother her if I hug her? Maybe I should get her a card. Is a card too much? I never  know what I should do so I often end up doing nothing. There is a good chance that I’m a terrible friend.

Since I recently went through a heartbreak of my own I had the pleasure of watching how people ministered to me and I am filing away this information so that hopefully I will be able to be a better blessing to those around me when they need encouragement. I learned that no grand gesture is ever necessary but that a small gesture can hold great meaning to someone who is hurting. Everyone is different and so perhaps it might not be true for everyone, but I wanted to be acknowledged yet not pitied. After my first ectopic pregnancy I told no one outside of my family what had happened. There were a few reasons for that but a big part of why I didn’t tell anyone was because I dreaded the pity that I thought would follow. I didn’t want pity; I wanted to heal and move on. What I realized, however, was that by avoiding the pity I was also avoiding the encouragement my friends could have provided. Instead, the world went on just as before and no one knew that I was walking around with a broken heart. It was very difficult to act normal when I felt so sad.

During this last week I have experienced such an outpouring of love from the many wonderful people in my life. And so I want to say thank you to the people who were such a blessing to me.

Thank you to the many friends and family members who sent me text messages to ask how my recovery was going and to tell me they were sorry for my loss. Perhaps to you it seemed almost insignificant but to me it was often a source of energy that helped me get through the long hours of those first few days.

Thank you to my sweet sisters-in-law and my parents for bringing meals. Although I probably could have managed an easy crock pot meal and my husband certainly could have gone to get take-out, it was a blessing not to have to worry about what my family would eat and simply focus on my recovery (both emotional and physical) and spend the extra time with my daughter and husband that I really needed.

Thank you to my sister-in-law who sent a funny card with a very sweet note inside. Neither of us are very good with the “touchy-feely” stuff but those words sure encouraged me and reminded me how lucky I am to have a true sister that I can talk to about anything!

Thank you to my pastor for taking time from a busy schedule to write me a quick note of prayer and encouragement.

Thank you to my sweet friend who was there through all of it - even if only by text message most of the time - and prayed me through each struggle, from infertility to pregnancy to loss. And thank you for the note and chocolate you brought by.  If chocolate doesn’t make things a little better I don’t know what would!

Thank you to my friend who came by for a visit and brought me some of my favorite snacks!  The visit was what I really needed but the snacks were a great bonus!

Thank you to my grandmother who sent me a card with a sweet heartfelt note inside.

Thank you to the friend who made me a beautiful personalized journal.

Thank you to the sweet couple who brought flowers and hugs and told me that you were praying for me.

Thank you to the friend who went on a normal “play date” with my daughter and me and helped me enjoy just getting out of the house for a couple of hours.

Thank you to those of you who acknowledged my grief when you saw me at church but did so briefly and sweetly.  You’ll never know how the simple words “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “I have been praying for you” have uplifted me and carried me.

Thank you to my friend who reminded me that I can talk to you about absolutely anything.  I know I can.  I do.  And I will.  

Thank you to those of you who have commented on my blog or links to my blog.  Your prayers and kind words have given me strength.

Of course, the greatest thanks belongs to my Lord. Even when I am in the dark He is making my path straight.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18

So the next time you have a friend going through a difficult time just remember that even if you are as awkward as I am (and believe me, that is really awkward) you can still find a way to be a blessing.  Send a text message, mail a card, drop off a bar of chocolate or a few inexpensive flowers, or simply say “I’m so sorry.  I have been praying for you.” And be sure that you are praying for those who need God’s grace! Hopefully I will use these tips myself!


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