When my mom passed away, I couldn’t believe the ways our friends and church family ministered to us. Many times, we don’t know what to say or do when a friend is hurting. We want to help but we feel inadequate to meet their needs. Friends with the gift of service and the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus helped us when we hurt. Here are some ways you can serve a grieving friend.
We came home from the funeral, broken-hearted and weary, unwilling to face anyone after this unexpected tragedy. All I wanted was my own bed, privacy, and another box of tissues. We unlocked the front door that evening, stepped through the doorway, and froze. The house, which we had left a wreck after throwing everything from the car into the living room and leaving in a rush to race to the hospital the week before was now clean. Spotless. I followed the smell of supper cooking into the kitchen where our crockpot sat on the counter bubbling away.
My friends, desperate to find a way to help us in our deepest pain, found the most practical ways to minister to us.
- Bring a meal. Grief clouds our thoughts and makes the most menial tasks challenging. Not only did our friends provide supper in our crockpot but a few of them continued to drop off meals the next several weeks. It was exactly what this mama of six needed because I was too hurt to feed my family. My friends met that need and filled my family’s bellies. There are ways to set up a meal train on the internet but sometimes just a simple text letting them know dinner was on the way is sufficient. Ask about food allergies or food preferences. It’s better to find out ahead of time than deliver food that will be wasted. Consider breakfast or lunch meals too.
- Bring chocolate. I know everyone isn’t a fan of chocolate, but think about slipping in a treat with your visit. Maybe muffins or cookies? Even if I didn’t feel like eating, my kids loved feeling loved and thought about because they were grieving too.
- Bring groceries. Our friends filled our pantry and fridge with groceries before we came home from the funeral and it meant the world to me. The last thing I wanted to do was run to the store for milk. I didn’t have to because they did it for me. You don’t have to do a complete grocery run though. Many times, grieving friends won’t ask for help but if you tell them you’re on the way to the store and can you pick up anything, they’ll let you know a need. This way they don’t feel like a burden and you’re able to meet a need for them.
- Bring flowers or a potted plant. Someone dropped by our home with a banana tree, a peace lily, and daffodil bulbs to plant in my mom’s memory. Before she passed, I never would’ve thought to do that but I’m so thankful someone else did. Now I know a simple way to minister to others who are hurting with a little flower or plant.
- Bring your skills. Maybe you’re an excellent cook or a mean green mowing-machine. Or maybe laundry is your forte. Maybe you’re a fabulous photographer, videographer, or tech-savvy? My dad lost his wife, but his local church met his needs in many ways. He wasn’t helpless at home, but there were many things my mom did that he suddenly found himself doing. Sweeping. Mopping. Dusting. Laundry. Many times he called asking what fabric softener was for or how to clean his wood floors. These are things willing friends are able to help with after someone has lost a loved one. Maybe you could mow their grass or switch over a few loads of laundry or just grab some baskets of laundry to do at your own home? We also had friends meet our needs with pictures and books filled with memories from friends. You could do that too.
- Bring a box of tissues and visit. If you would’ve texted me and asked if I wanted visitors, I would’ve told you no. But some friends stopped by anyway and sat with me on the porch swing while the kids played in the yard. They brought diapers for our newborn twins and a box of tissues and we swung and cried together. They listened to me talk about her and it meant so much.
- Share your memories. This was the most important thing to my dad and the rest of our family. We loved hearing how my mom ministered to practically everyone she met, even ladies at the gym she exercised at. People wrote on our Facebook pages and slipped cards in the mail of stories they shared of my mom. We still have those and we’ll never let go of them. We needed to know how much she meant to everyone else too. Share your memories you have of their loved one too.
Losing a loved one is a gut-wrenching feeling and I hope these simple ways have given you ideas how you can minister to a grieving friend. They don’t need a lot, but the simplest of gestures can leave a lasting memory. Have you lost a loved one? I’d love to hear how someone ministered to you in your deepest moment of pain. <3