MINISTERING TO THOSE WHO GRIEVE

I was designed to understand grief. Sometimes I wish I weren’t because it comes with special burdens. But it also allows me to see others’ grief quickly, which creates opportunities to offer comfort. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

 

  1. For some reason, we seem to associate the word “grief” with death. There are many deep griefs that have nothing to do with someone dying. Look for this. These grieving people are everywhere.
  2. Prolonged grief permanently changes a person. Both the before and after versions are valuable and beloved by God. Let the grieved person know that you love the “after” version as well.
  3. Acknowledge and validate grief rather than trying to erase it (you can’t). We sometimes offer platitude statements to comfort people because we don’t know what to say. So we say things we’ve heard other people say:
  • All things work together for good.
  • You just need to keep trusting God.
  • God is always good, so this is really a good thing…..
  • God must have needed another angel.
  • Apparently, God didn’t want you to have children.
  • You can still serve God, even with this debilitating injury/disease/etc.

 

While well-intended and sometimes even true, these statements (and 1,000 others like them) often cause more hurt in the moment than comfort. Being present, allowing grief, and grieving with the wounded is the greatest support we can give. Validate the hurt, create space for the grief, and pray for them.

 

THE RING METHOD

When a tragedy or difficult situation happens, people are affected in a ripple pattern with grief touching everyone from the point of impact to the outer rings of the ripple pattern. Everyone hurts, and everyone deserves comfort. The “Ring Method” is a great tool that helps us know when to comfort others and where to seek comfort. Here’s how it works:

 

If you draw a circle, the center of the circle is the most affected person (the one who has just lost their spouse; the one who is in the ICU after a bad car accident; the mother who just miscarried her first child). The first inner ring of ripple effect are the people closest to the affected/grieving person: immediate family members. The next ring of ripple effect are very close friends and extended family members. The next ring out are colleagues, neighbors, and other social groups. The final outer ring are acquaintances and community members.

 

The rule of the Ring Method is that we always offer comfort IN, and dump OUT. If I’m a neighbor, I should seek comfort from people in an outer ring rather than from the already hurting family in the inner rings. This method keeps the people most affected from having to carry the extra burden of their friends’/colleagues’/extended family’s grief as well as their own.

 

May God give you sight to see the wounded and wisdom to know how to minister.

 

Blessings,

Heather

 

 

I Thought By Now

Surely He Has Borne Our Sorrows

You Are There

Unexpected Places

Let Me Walk You Home

Jesus Lover of My Soul

Jesus Changes Everything

Be Still My Soul

Psalm 121

 

 

 

Heather Sorenson entered the church music industry in her twenties, and her name quickly became a welcomed fixture in the publishing world. Heather is hired by the largest and most respected publishers in the world, and her pieces remain at the top of Bestsellers lists and Editor’s Choice selections. Initially recognized for her skill as a pianist, Heather is now known for her compositions in choral anthems, solo piano collections, and orchestrations. Her works are performed regularly at competitions, concerts, recitals, and churches worldwide. Although her career is sometimes on a big stage, Heather’s heart is leading the Church in worship, and she feels that her greatest calling is using her music to connect people with God. In addition to being a full-time composer, Heather regularly is a guest speaker and conductor at churches across America, and leads scores of sessions each year at various worship conferences, schools, and universities.

 

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