The rain comes down on everyone...(Called 'The African Village Song.' I hear it on the 'Dr. Jean Sings Silly Songs' CD that Grace plays at night sometimes.)
Rich or poor, great or small,
It doesn't really matter at all
Then the sun shines down on everyone...
Then the flowers bloom for everyone...
I love this song because I think it's such a good message for kids to grow up with. Hard stuff happens. To me. To you. And good stuff happens, too. Hang in there, kid! It's really not a very silly song.
But what do we do, what do we say, when bad stuff happens to people around us? To people we love?
People we love die.
Babies are lost.
Friendships are broken.
Jobs are lost.
Lives take a detour.
What do you say, what do you do?
Just some of my thoughts as I process some hard stuff a friend is going through, and from my experience during the loss of both parents:
1) It's not all about you! (to quote Rick Warren) Don't worry how you will look or sound, just show up! Call, visit the hospital, attend the funeral, swallow your pride and forgive, make a meal, hug, cry, just show up!
2) Love in practical ways (see above). One thing that I have appreciated is the friend who remembers the date my mom died on 13 years ago, and he calls, every year and simply says, "I'm thinking about you as you're remembering your mom." Send a card, say you care, whatever.
3) Listen. Good, active listening. Look at them, listen. Don't tell your stories, just hear theirs. Don't try to solve the problem, listen. Give your undivided attention, listen.
4) Call a lie a lie. Things like, "I deserved this ___(house fire?)___," or "I'll never get another chance," or "God doesn't care/doesn't exist." Lies, all of them. And you can say what is true, gently, and ward off the lie that fights for dominance.
5) Pray. Not as a last resort but as the best resort. Lay your hand on them and pray, pray while you drive, shower, whatever. Pray.
6) Love them, the simplest and hardest thing to do. Love.
The only real mistake you can make when a friend is hurting is to do nothing.