Call it coincidence, but a lot of my friends are going through some pretty unbelievable upheavals and struggles in their lives. Serious things like children in the hospital, losing their spouse to terminal illness, teenagers making poor choices, parents in assisted living and broken marriages.
My heart breaks for every text, email, or phone call that brings more news. There is a definite sadness in the air lately and I fight that feeling of helplessness in it all. Other than promising to be there if they need me, which I genuinely mean every time I utter those words, I’m left with only the ability to listen and keep them in prayer. While I was wondering what else I could do for each of these people, I was reminded that I’m doing all I can and it might be enough to just be there.
A little over a week ago my good friend Susie noted on Facebook that it had been 7 years to the day since she had lost her father. She shared with me a letter that her brother had written to his local newspaper in the weeks following his fathers passing that really illustrates the importance of simply being there for someone. With her permission, I’ll share that with you now.
My Dad passed away a few weeks ago. It was quite unexpected, and he was only 60. Add the fact that my whole family is very close, and you can understand that the last week of February is easily one of the worst weeks of my life.
But even during this grief-stricken time, a highpoint emerged that week. On Tuesday, we had the wake/viewing for my father. Hundreds of people poured into the funeral home, and there was little room for more flowers. The outpouring for my family was simply overwhelming.
My preacher, coworkers, friends, principal, and even a student took an hour-long trip to Fayetteville just to stand in line to see me for what amounted to about five minutes. Then, they took the long drive home. Most of these people had never even met my father; they just knew that I was very close to my dad.
In the past, I have avoided most funerals unless the deceased was someone I knew personally. My rationale for such a cowardly decision was that the family would like the time together to grieve – that it was inappropriate to attend the funeral if I didn’t know the person who passed.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. My friends traveled a long distance just to help share some of my grief. They let me ramble on for a few minutes, held my hand, and provided much-needed hugs. Their presence brought a reassurance that I cannot describe. I have no way of thanking these people enough just for being there that evening.
What I learned is that when a friend is grieving, or just simply going through a hard time, we don’t have to provide them with words of wisdom. We don’t have to try to explain the ‘Why?’. We don’t have to recall great times in the past. Quite honestly, we don’t have to say anything at all. Being a true friend simply means being there. It is a lesson I now know and one I won’t forget.
Thank you, Susie, for reminding me that being there is enough. I want to do more but my friends may only need ME and I’m willing and able to give them all of me they need.