Compassion and Care

I’m waiting on some news that will likely be sad and hard to receive. There is an ache in my heart and a pit in my stomach while I wait for the phone call that will surely come. While I wait, I offer silent prayers of comfort for the folks involved, and I wonder what the future is going to hold.

When life gets hard and sickness or death or disaster draws close, where is our comfort?

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? Psalm 121 NRSV

The next part of that Psalm says that our help comes from God but I aways read that first part as a cry from the heart – the spirit crying out to the hills for help and wondering if there is any help or any comfort at all.

Comfort comes in a warm embrace, in the presence of another who is willing to really listen, in the quiet companionship of a sweet dog. Comfort can come to us in scriptures, poetry, music, art, and in silence.

Garden gate Blog on grief and compassion

img_0306The heart that is broken can sometimes close itself off to the comfort and compassion that is offered. Perhaps the pain is to terrible or the stimulation too intense. It seems that there is a time for quiet, personal reflection on what is, and what is not, and that time for pondering is a precious component to our walk through sadness and grief.

When someone dies, the people closest to them often describe the days and weeks following the death as a time of being “in shock” or “numbness.” This is, in so many ways, a blessing. That shocky feeling allows the bereaved to get things done, make funeral arrangements, deal with the onslaught of friends and family and get through the tasks that must be tended to Only after the funeral, and after the people leave, then the heart starts to sift through the emotions and and begin to adjust to the new normal – whatever that will be.

So often, when we see a friend hurting or sad, we don’t know what to do or say. It’s enough to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting,” or, “I can see you are sad and I don’t know what to say.” We say in church that we are the Body of Christ. One of the ways that is enacted is when we show God’s love and compassion for one another when there is pain and grief. There are so many stories in the Gospels that show Jesus reaching out to the sick and suffering and we become the Body of Christ when we reach out to one another. That generous spirit comes from your own heart, but it’s source is in God’s love for us all. Even for those who don’t claim a faith tradition or believe in God, offering your good thoughts or simple good deeds in support of another who is hurting will be gratefully received.

I’m a longtime follower of the Satellite Sisters and the Chaos Chronicles. In a podscast last fall, Lian Dolan reflected on the comfort she had received during her mother’s sickness and death. It’s often hard to know how to help when someone is hurting and Lian has a good list of things that were helpful to her. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to her reflections on the somewhat unexpected death of her mother and a few gleanings from that time of death and loss. Here’s a link to the webpage and you can click through to listen.

Lian Dolan’s Chaos Chronicles Podcast #605

Be kind and generous to each other, and say “I love you” as often as you can.

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