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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Ministering in loss

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several months, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

It was--not sure if this is the best word or not--interesting to watch the responses of people after the accident, particularly those who knew me best. The funny thing was that when they came to offer me comfort, I often found myself reassuring them that their feelings were okay. I think many of them were at a complete loss for words, not knowing how to express their feelings. I assured them that words weren't necessary. Their presence was enough.

After the kids and I made our move back to Franklin, people who had known us from our previous time here became quickly involved. Some of them were too involved. Keep in mind there were those who I invited to come closer. My family, of course, was always ready and willing. They, along with the previously mentioned friends, were the ones I turned to when I had a need or simply wanted to talk.

But there were also friends who weren't as close who immediately became "more involved" than I desired. I chalk it up to what I mentioned above--not knowing what words to use. So, rather than using words, they did the only thing they knew to do which was to try and serve. Looking back, I thank God for every single one of them. At the time, it was annoying. I had people telling me how to raise my kids (as if my wife's death had suddenly made me an incapable dad) or wanting to show me how to wash my clothes (unfortunately, none of them felt compelled to take it on as a weekly service for their friend).

Hear me again when I say this: looking back I have a deeper appreciation for what they were doing and the ways that they were expressing their own grief. It was just that at that time it was very overwhelming and...invasive.

Some of you may be at that place right now. You've got a friend or family member who is going through a difficult time. Love them. Love them deeply. But be respectful of boundaries--real and implied. Don't force yourself into places where you don't get invited. Don't overwhelm someone when they are already overwhelmed with the situation before them. It's okay to say just be present in their pain. The best way to know the difference? Ask...and then be respectful of the answer you hear. Your goal is to minister to them, not become a menace to them.

1 comment:

hold_fast061706 said...

That is VERY well said. Over the past 9 months I have tried to say this to people in a more polite way than GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, I DIDNT BECOME DUMB OVERNIGHT! but somehow i never have.. and you well that was very well stated. So very true Mr. Ridley.