This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DaySpring. The opinions and text are all mine.
A few weeks ago a teenage boy from church passed away.
The week before he passed, he struggled in a coma to overcome the severe head trauma he incurred after hitting a large boulder on his dirt bike while on vacation with family. After a week long battle, his body finally shut down and he passed into the next life.
He was an outstanding young man, a joy to his family, and quite the charmer too. Our church congregation, his family near and far, and our local community all rallied together in prayer and fasting for his recovery, sharing #PrayforMotoMick online. It’s hard to understand why things like this happen.
The week before Mick’s passing, our old friends from Indianapolis, who we also knew through church, had the funeral services for one of their twin five year old boys. Their son Miles passed very unexpectedly through the night the week before, and the family doesn’t know why. To celebrate his life, family and friends around the country wore #RedforMiles on the day of his funeral.
As a fellow twin mom, with twins just a year older than theirs, I cannot imagine losing one randomly as they sleep!
My heart is broken for these two families. It doesn’t seem fair to lose children so young. It doesn’t seem right to lose children at all! Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children.
And yet the reality is that they are, and many do every single day.
It’s hard to know that so many were praying for Mick, fasting for him, and that he still passed away, unable to recover from his accident. It’s hard to know why he wasn’t a miracle.I never know what I can do to best help and support families who are suffering losses, so I recently asked my email subscribers what they have done, or if they’ve lost a loved one, what they have loved to receive – whether words, cards, flowers, gifts, phone calls, hugs, messages, etc. I also asked what I should say. I don’t know what to say.
What to Say and What to Do When Someone Suffers a Loss
Marie said that unfortunately, there is no right thing to say.
Julie said after her father passed away she most appreciated acts of kindness, such as meals, gift cards, babysitting, cash to help with expenses – all were necessary and helpful to her when she felt helpless.
Ashleigh lost her mom and still doesn’t know what to say to people! She said a note saying you’re thinking of them will go far.
Georgia lost her 14 year old ray of sunlight, and she discovered that everyone grieves differently, even within the same household. She withdrew while her husband needed people around, needed that support group, needed phone calls, and even cards from strangers. What she found most helpful was people who saw a need and filled it, because when you lose a child and are in that burning reality, you don’t know what people can do for you, as you go into autopilot and muddle through. Having someone do mundane things was very helpful for her.
Georgia loved the flowers, especially ones that captured her daughter’s personality and spirit. She loved the cards, especially ones that had something special written in them, and the ones that came months and years after their loss. Despite them not being able to eat, people bringing food was a wonderful gesture as family came from out of town; they appreciated not having to worry about feeding them. She also appreciated the friends who knew when to laugh with her or just let her cry, not trying to interrupt with platitudes or seeming uncomfortable.
As a child, Linda lost her mother and a friend and would have loved speaking with a counselor, someone who was impartial to the situation. Linda also encouraged me to keep these families in my prayers. She also exhorted me to not exclude those suffering losses from events due to wrong assumptions, like not inviting them to a birthday celebration because it would bring back memories of their own deceased children. Not mentioning the deceased and excluding the families of the deceased from events actually do a disservice to the deceased as well as their families: kindness, not pity, along with love and compassion are the best things you can give to those who are grieving.
Emily said that food is always appreciated, but sometimes it piles up in the beginning, and to remember that it’s the week and months later that they still appreciate food and support. Always listening rather than trying to solve.
Kathryn reminded me that often just knowing that other people are thinking about you, praying for you, and there for them means a lot in your grief. And as for what to say, she said she found that asking the Holy Spirit to help with the right words works well.
Darlene said that after her husband’s death, one of her husband’s friend’s wife came over and cooked for a couple days, the kids’ school counselor came and prayed with her, and another friend helped pick clothes out for her husband to wear the day of the service. Having people offer to shop, clean, cook, babysit, answer the phone or door, and even water and tend to the garden are huge blessings when you are stricken with grief.
Kim said to let them know you are here for them, no matter how later or what time, you will time and even if it’s just to cry.
Liezel said giving support and love from deep down inside is the most valuable thing you can give, as God created us to love one another and to be a support system for one another.
Suzanne who lost her husband in a motorcycle accident said that there isn’t a perfect thing to say, but somethings you shouldn’t say, as she was often upset by them; things like “He’s in a better place” or “He’s better off” or “I know how you feel” and especially “Was it their fault?” She said her mother once told her the best thing to say at a funeral is “I will deeply miss them.” Sincerity is more comforting than empty words. A hug was better than a promise of being there in case she needed anything.
A friend told me that one of dumbest things to ask a person suffering a loss is “How are you doing?” or “How are you?” etc. because they don’t really want to answer “Crappy” over and over again. Avoid that question altogether and say something like “It’s good to see you.”
We attended the funeral for Mick as a family, sitting in a pew in church for two hours (thankfully our kids did great!). It was during the funeral services that my question of why weren’t our prayers and our fasting turned into a miracle were answered as his mother got up and spoke, answering my questions with her strong testimony and assurance that our prayers and fasting were answered, as she was blessed to have six days to kiss his hands, kiss his cheeks, and rub his cold feet in the hospital, six days to say goodbye. She spoke about how during their time in the hospital her and her husband’s prayers turned from pleading to God to save their son, to an acceptance of God’s will, whatever that may be. It was when they finally prayed those words of faith and submission, “Thy will be done” that they were finally filled with peace.
When his organs and his body started to shut down, they knew it was time to say goodbye.
Mick’s parents are amazing people of faith and testimony. Hearing them, and their parents, speak at his funeral was so wonderful, and beautiful. While they are sad and miss their son tremendously, they know where he is, without a doubt. He is in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father.
I know that there can be purpose in suffering, even if we can’t see it now. Through heartbreak can come tremendous growth, sympathy, understanding, and faith. And I know that both of these families are eternal families, sealed together for time and all eternity in God’s Holy Temples, and that though separated by death now, will be reunited again someday. Their separation is only temporary, and both families now have an extra angel to watch over them.
God will sanctify their sorrows.
What I’m Doing for Families Who’ve Lost a Son – Christian Sympathy Gift Ideas
The funerals may now be over, but I want to still be that friend to these families. Our prayers are continuing on for them, and our thoughts. But, I’ve decided to do a little more too.
Because I take my baptismal covenants seriously, believing that I need to mourn with those that mourn, I headed to Walmart to pick up some Christian Celebrations items by DaySpring. They had products both in the card section, next to all the Hallmark cards, as well as even more products the next row over near other gifting products:
There was a large selection of cards, cups, gift-giving items, home and office supplies, home decor, Bibles, and stationary. It took me a long time to decide what to get for these families. I ended up picking up a variety of items, several for our own home, and many for my church callings – like baptism cards and thank you cards – and condolence cards for them too. One of my favorite items I picked up was a book of beautiful encouragement postcards! Part of me is tempted to keep them and frame them they are so beautiful! However, I plan to write on several and send them to these families (and perhaps other friends or family going through tough times) throughout the year with a nice note that I am thinking about them and their loss.
Christian Celebrations GIVEAWAY!
If you would like a chance to win a prize pack from DaySpring valued at $40, enter by doing the following:
1.) Go to Walmart and buy any of the Christian Celebrations products (use the store locator), and then share their inspirational use on Instagram (it needs to be a public account) with the hashtags #Walmart and #ChristianCelebrations included in the post by September 12, 2016! Be sure to tag me on Instagram @whatsupfagans so I see the post or come back and leave me a comment with the link to your post so I know that you did it. Doing this will get you FIVE entries.
2.) If a Walmart store selling Christian Celebrations is not near you, comment below and tell me what items (find them here) you would send to a friend. Doing this will get you ONE entry.
The giveaway ends at midnight EST on Monday, September 12, 2016. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.