December 15, 2019

Reaching out to Hurting People

Image Courtesy of Pixels

“Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.”-- Psalm 88:9 (KJV)

In my last article, I introduced the subject of grief. This emotion is complicated and universal. It’s not limited to the death of a loved one. Any disappointment, loss, or life change can be difficult. This is illustrated by the following analogy:

 “We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”– LeeAnn Taylor (quote from
This writing will probe last week’s topic even deeper. I have compiled the thoughts of two mental-health professionals on how to help grieving people. These two experts have personal knowledge of challenges. One was faced with the death of a loved one. The other therapist’s young child was diagnosed with severe autism. Please see the sources for my material at the bottom of the page.

Helping Others Through Grief

“Platitudes and advice come across as dismissive, reducing great pain to empty one liners.” 1 Here are two examples of advice and opinions that don’t seem sympathetic:

1st message: Move on, get over the trauma, and stop talking about it.
2nd message: Trauma teaches us what’s really important in life.

The sufferer can feel isolated, judged, misunderstood, and dismissed. “Grief is not a disorder, but a natural response to deep loss.”1 We need to talk about grief and break the taboo.

 “A compassionate response must come before anything else…We want to feel understood, accepted, and cared for before we are ready to start looking for solutions and strategies.” Useful suggestions include:
  • Acknowledge and empathize with their pain. Don’t be dismissive or trivialize it.
  • Keep communication simple to avoid misunderstanding: “This hurts. I love you. I’m here.”
  • Realize you play only a supporting role in the loved one’s grief process. Follow their lead.
  • Anticipate their physical needs. (Lessen the burdens of everyday life.)
  • Recognize their emotional needs. (Space, support, silence, a listening ear, a healing touch)

Divine Help for our Grief

 “Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears.”– Criss Jami (quote from

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”-- Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

My Conclusion

The grieving process is difficult, even for professionals. It’s easy to feel isolated and misjudged. The truth is that we are not alone. Please enjoy this Kari Jobe lyric video, “I am Not Alone”:


  1. Devine, Megan. “How to Help a Friend Grieve”. Reader’s Digest, Dec. 2019-Jan. 2020. pp. 26-29
  2. Harris, Russ. The Reality Slap: Finding Peace and Fulfillment When Life Hurts.  New Harbinger Publications, 2012. pp. 24-27.

Do you feel able to advocate for yourself, and others, who are suffering a crisis?


  1. This post is so appropriate for this time of year. I believe we feel our loss more at this time of year than any other. I have been the recipient of some of the comments you listed - both the welcome and the unwelcome ones. But the best comments are simply a hug - no words. Just human contact. I long for someone to put their arms around me when I hurt and say nothing but let me rest in that comfort and cry my tears if I need to.

    1. Carol Graham, thanks so much for your comments! I agree with everything you said. Sometimes silent (human or animal) contact is the best therapy.

  2. Thanks for this posting. Very well considered and helpful. Bless you. Xxx

    1. Fran Macilvey, thanks so much for your kind words! They mean a lot to me!! Bless you, too. xxx