Last night I was watching true story about a sweet young woman who had given birth to a still born baby. It was a heart-breaking story. I cannot imagine that pain and loss. She was pregnant again and struggling with panic and fear that she would loose this baby too (she didn't!).
The pain of loosing a child must be nearly unbearable. I have sat with one of my closest friends and cried with her when she lost a baby. There is no comfort to offer in those moments. My friend told me the worst "comforting words" were from people who told her that she was young and could have more babies. She wanted to be allowed to grieve the loss of THIS baby and not have her pain belittled in any way. Every person has suffering and pain unique to them. No one can feel someone else's pain.
Back to the story I saw last night: one thing this young lady said stood out to me. She said that when her baby died her group of friends grew silent. No one called. No one commented. No one was there. Just silence. She felt neglected in her time of greatest need. What a shame! But, unfortunately it is not rare for this to happen. Pain, loss, death, cancer, mysterious illnesses, divorce, affairs, loss of faith .. all of these times of deep suffering are hard for people to bear. Friends may disappear because they feel it is too hard to walk through this suffering. People don't know what to say because they feel if they say the wrong thing they will cause more pain. It's human nature to want to shrink away from pain - in others as well as in ourselves. But I am challenging us all to NOT. You don't have to have the answers. You don't have to know some amazing thing to say to that friend who is hurting. You don't have to feel comfortable with the situation. You just have to be there. Offer support in little ways: make a meal, offer to babysit, pray for them (and let them KNOW!), call them on the phone, send a text, offer to clean their house .. drive them to the doctor ... there are SO many ways to offer support.
I long to be a better friend to those around me. I sometimes shrink back just because in this place of life we are in I don't get the opportunity to be away from the house much or even have people over much .. BUT I can still pray and I can send a message to someone who is hurting. Don't do nothing just because you can't do everything. Together we can ease some of the pain around us and at least offer a shoulder for that friend to cry on when they need it.