Today, I want to introduce the topic of helping your loved ones in crisis. This is something all Christians can do with the help of the Holy Spirit, and, to be honest, it’s probably something we will all be faced with doing – maybe even multiple times throughout our lives.
How do we help the people closest to us when a sudden crisis arises in their lives? It could be your spouse, your child, your Mom or Dad, your best friend, or a neighbor… They receive some difficult news or experience something tragic, and you just happen to be with them at the time, or, maybe you are the first person they call or come to… What do you say? What do you do? How can you help a loved one during their first painful moments of a crisis in their lives?
Your three main resources for supporting your loved ones in their moment of crisis are going to be your Experience, Empathy, and Equipment. Today, we’ll focus on your Experience.
Now what kind of crises am I talking about?
- the death of a loved one
- an acccident or injury
- news of a terrible medical diagnosis
- learning about a marital infidelity
- news of a miscarriage
- someone who experiences a fire, or loss, or theft of property
- identity theft, or bankruptcy, or some bad business or real estate deal
Dianna and our kids and I were missionaries together in Africa from 2012-2017, and while we were there, two of my grandparents died, and my Mom became fatally ill. I was able to travel home for my Mom’s last moments in hospice, followed by her funeral. But sadly, I was not able to be home for either of my grandparents’ deaths and funerals. Those were very difficult times to be deployed overseas away from my extended family…
Think about the crisis moments you’ve experienced in your life. Where were you when you heard the news? Who were you with? Who did you turn to for comfort and support?
You’ve been through it before. You know the kinds of things your loved ones could face in their lives. And your experience – whether good or bad – can help you to serve your loved ones well.
One of my favorite Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, and it says,
“God is the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we may comfort others in any trouble with the same comfort we ourselves have received from God.”2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Some of you have endured terrible crises in your lives – and you received some truly helpful support and comfort from your loved ones in those critical moments. Draw from that experience. Remember the help that others offered to you when you needed it so that you can offer that same help to others when the time comes.
And, I bet others of you have learned some hard lessons about how NOT to help and comfort your loved ones during hard times. Maybe you had no one to support you – or maybe the things people said to you just made things worse… You can also draw from that experience. You learned from them how NOT to do it. And that’s a hard way to learn, but it’s still valuable, and you can still use those bad experiences to help yourself do better for others.
One specific tip here is not to promise anything you can’t deliver. Promising something we cannot do is worse than telling the truth. The truth is oddly comforting when you’re in a crisis. And people usually know when they’re being placated. Or, if they don’t, it can really hurt them once they figure out that you told them something that was not accurate or true or deliverable. So, don’t make empty promises – that would be one key aspect of supporting your loved ones in crisis.
So your first resource to draw from is your own experience: What helpful or harmful things did you receive from others when you experienced a crisis? In the next two posts, we’ll talk about the resources of Empathy and Equipment.
In a situation where someone has died, don’t say “well it was probably for the best.”
However well intended, those words cut. Consider what you can offer, like to listen when the person wants to talk (if you can actually be available,) or find out what needs doing and take care of it
Good advice, Robin. I just read where we should never respond to someone’s hurt with the words “at least…” Trying to draw a silver lining onto someone else’s pain is rarely helpful.