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Grieving Friends - Being with and Speaking with them


This was the study we went through as Elders this past Saturday, the same day we heard of another member who went to with the Lord he loved. I put these scriptures together and quotes from this book I read a number of years ago. Very timely reminders for us as we're called to be with those who mourn, but not as the world does without hope.


Being with and Speaking with Grieving Christian Friends

Christ’s Example in His Own Hour of Need And What He Does for Ours
Matthew 26:37–38 says Jesus ‘began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (NKJV)

Isaiah 53: “it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief … a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief … Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (ESV)

The Lord’s Wisdom in Relating to the Grieving
“There is a time for everything… a time to heal… a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn…a time to embrace… a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love…” (Eccl. 3 NIV).

Romans 12:15 “…mourn with those who mourn.”

James 1:27 says pure religion is ‘to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction’ (KJV).
- ‘visit’ can be translated ‘look after, look on with mercy, pay attention to, examine carefully, show care for, take care of, visit graciously, go to help,’ etc. ‘affliction’ can be translated ‘distress, anguish, affliction, need, trouble, fears within, what causes pain, pressure,’ etc.

Isaiah 35: ‘Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those… "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God…" …sorrow and sighing will flee away…’ (v. 3-4, 11 ESV)

Colossians 4:6: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV). v. 5 adds ‘be wise’ and v. 3 adds ‘pray for us’

Nancy Guthrie, What Grieving People Wish You Knew (Crossway, 2016)
For a helpful video intro and overview by the author, see

Excerpts from Gospel Coalition blog: Some of the most awkward social interactions happen at funerals. What do you say? How can you make the grieving feel better? We all want to be the person who says the perfect thing. On the flip side, we don’t want to be the person who says the wrong thing. Trying to find the right words or actions to console someone who’s lost a loved one seems so elusive. Or maybe you know what it’s like to be the mourner. You’ve cringed at the sappy, pseudo-spiritual jargon someone has
tried to comfort you with. You’ve noticed how people try to avoid you because of the awkwardness caused by grief. You just wish they’d be there for you and know how to comfort you well.

Nancy Guthrie has written a timely book to help us to do just that: What Grieving People Wish You Knew: About What Really Helps (And What Really Hurts) … We all know someone struggling with grief over the death of a loved one, and we all know what it’s like to want to help but not know what to say or do… Guthrie—a Bible teacher who with her husband, David, cohost the GriefShare video series—recounts how she used to be among the ignorant when it came to consoling grieving friends, until death struck her own family … Guthrie was on the receiving end of both helpful and hurtful—though all well-
meaning—family members and friends who wanted to console her. She then realized the need to develop some type of resource that would aid those who sought to comfort … to help us know how to engage the grieving in a helpful rather than hurtful way. One doesn’t need a counseling background or an advanced education in order to understand and apply the principles … Our goal in speaking isn’t to remove the pain or grief, but to enter into the grievers’ pain and assure them they’re not alone.

Guthrie not only outlines the dos and don’ts of speaking, but she also provides usable guidelines on specific words and actions that have proven beneficial to mourners … Just show up, listen more than talk, don’t assume anything … she includes a chapter on how to use social media properly to reach out to the grieving … These guidelines aren’t just for the immediate aftermath of the death, but for the weeks, months, and even years following. Guthrie reminds the reader that grief is a long process and that the grieving will always sense the loss in one way or another, no matter how much time has passed … One of the most helpful resources is the final chapter, which covers common questions ranging from depression to anger toward God. It even includes some of the Scripture passages mourners say have been most meaningful in their grief. For Christians who want to learn how to better serve and love those in their community who are grieving, Guthrie’s book is an insightful resource. She not only provides needed guidelines, but she also gives us an insider’s look into the heart and mind of those walking through the trenches of sadness. I commend What Grieving People Wish You Knew to every believer, especially those in leadership positions. Applying the truths and principles outlined in the book will further equip us to selflessly love like Jesus, and to mourn with those who mourn.

Chapter 1 excerpts – what to say: ‘the first and most important thing … is this: It matters less what you say than that you say something … Your purpose in saying something is to enter into the hurt with them and let them know they are not alone … Really, you just have to show up and say very little … that you will be willing to hurt with them. That’s what makes a great friend in the midst of grief! He or she comes alongside and is willing, at least for awhile, to agree that this is terrible … Not suggesting you should be grateful … at least not yet … what you might say when the time comes? It depends on the nature of your relationship … It depends on where that person is in the process of grief … Let the grieving person take the lead … Don’t ask potentially painful questions out of curiosity … Don’t assume … Don’t compare … Don’t make it about you (“Well, I …” or “When I …” or “I remember…” or “My…”) … Don’t feel the need to
fix … Don’t be in a hurry … Listen more than you talk … Don’t tell them what to do … Esteem their grief (don’t dismiss or minimize it) … Don’t be put off by tears (Romans 12:15 “weep with those who weep”)

Chapter 2 excerpts – typical things people say (and what you can say instead): ‘Instead of saying, “You’ll be fine,” you might say: “I can’t imagine how hard things are for you right now. I want you to know I’m going to be here with you…And I’m going to believe with you—even when, and especially when it is hard to believe—that God is going to give you the grace you need to face every day, whatever it brings
…Instead of saying…pretty much anything that starts with “Well at least…,” … what they want are friends who are willing to sit with them in the darkness, feeling the weight of the loss with them … what they need is time and freedom to lament their loss. When one of those “Well, at least…” thoughts runs through your mind, let it stay there… if the grieving person says something that begins with “At least…” you can agree!
As they…seek a heart of gratitude, you can affirm their conclusions. Just don’t be the first to say it…
Instead of saying…“Just call me if you need something”…they need for you to figure out what they need and just show up and take care of it instead of waiting for them to call…Grieving people are not going to  call if you if they need something …Call them and tell them you’d like to…
Instead of asking, “How are you?” you might ask: “What is your grief like these days?” This question assumes that it makes sense that the person is sad and gives them the opportunity to talk about it…you might ask…“Are there particular times of day or days of the week you’re finding especially hard…without [name of person who died]…” Keep on saying the name of the person who died. It is music to the grieving
person’s ears…you might ask…“Are there particular things I could be praying for you as you go through this time of grief?” … “I know [the holidays/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/anniversary] is coming up. I will be especially thinking of you and praying for you as that approaches. We would love to have you over…

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