Doug Creamer: Faithfulness
When I sit down to work on my column each week, I reflect back on my week and think about how God has been working in my life. I know I write a lot about gardening, but that is a time when my mind and spirit can concentrate on the Lord and I can hear so much from Him. My reflections from the garden may not be as positive as usual, as the deer came and feasted on my corn. I am not happy with the deer.
We did have some luck from the garden. We have enjoyed some potatoes and beans. The tomatoes are in a lull right now. Some of the vines have died, but others are putting on some flowers and bringing me hope of a late fall harvest of fresh tomatoes. The first squash plants are dying back too, but I do have some that I planted later that are blooming pretty right now.
You see, it is easy for me to write about gardening. I do wish that we could get some rain over here. There has been rain all around us recently, but my yard is really dry. I look out and see some of the trees have leaves that are turning yellow. I am spending lots of time watering in order to keep things alive.
As I look back at last week’s calendar, none of that appears on it. What does appear is notes of friends who lost a loved one. Two people from my church lost loved ones and I wanted to be there for them. I go to a relatively small church and we are like family. When one of us is hurting, we are all hurting. I haven’t been to a funeral in a long time, and to go to two in one week was a bit overwhelming.
I always have trouble with what to say to the family who is hurting so badly. Imagine that, someone who loves to use words to write, struggling with words to offer a family that is suffering a great loss. I feel so inadequate. My words seem so empty. How can I come up with words that will help comfort and bring healing?
It is only upon reflection that I realize that it is not my words that help to bring comfort, it is simply my presence. When we take time to be there, devoid of platitudes, giving a simple hug or even a handshake can touch and mean so much. Giving moral support in a time of loss means the world to those who are struggling.
One thing I do know is that we have to be careful with our words when someone is grieving. Often, we want to offer platitudes that we intend to comfort the hurting, but could actually have the opposite effect. It is especially important with parents who have suddenly lost a child. It is better to hold them, say you are sorry for their loss, and hold them some more. I can’t imagine that pain or ever being able to fully recover.
The situation could be different for people who are caregivers who have endured a long, debilitating journey of suffering with their loved one. The words, “your loved one is in a better place” could actually bring the comfort you desire. No one wants to see a loved one suffer. But even in this case, I believe your presence and your prayers can mean more than any words you could offer.
A few friends have lost loved ones, and what I discovered was that listening can be the best medicine. They didn’t need my words. They coveted my prayers and my presence. A warm embrace and allowing them to shed a few tears on my shoulder was what they wanted the most. My words would have seemed hollow and empty, but my presence was appreciated.
This is a hard column to write as I know of several friends who are facing the loss of their loved ones. My heart aches for them. I find myself praying for them often throughout the day. I wonder what more I can do. I stay in touch and reach out with love.
I want to encourage you to be there for people who are suffering from a loss, or even those who are enduring the role of caregiver for their loved ones. People often feel alone during the darkest hours of their lives, but we know they are not, AND we have to let them know they are not alone. Our presence means so much, especially when our words seem so insufficient.
Contact Doug at email@example.com