All of us have experienced losses of some sort in our lives:
relationships, jobs, unattained goals, unmet expectations, illnesses and deaths.

Every person’s grief is very personal. Although the stages of grief are profitable to understand, they often hem us into believing that the stages must be followed exactly or else there’s something wrong.

I have experienced grief many times, and I can tell you that I have never consciously said, “I’m in the anger stage or the acceptance stage.” Parts of the losses I have experienced are still current and can knock me in the gut from out of the blue, even though one of those losses is nearly 10 years old.

I wrote this column not only to those of you who are grieving, but also to those who know someone who has had a loss in their life.

First, know that it’s OK not to have the answers to “fix” the situation. It’s wonderfully comforting to know someone is just there beside you, to cry with you, hold a hand, listen without judging or provide an answer. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

This side of eternity doesn’t always provide pat answers for the loss of a child, family member or even a pet. Experiencing a violent death like a murder or suicide can be one of the most horrific experiences anyone can go through. Those left behind are searching endlessly for answers they might never receive. Allow people the opportunity to ask the questions without having to provide the answers; they just might not exist.

Second, remembering the anniversary of a death can be a great comfort for those feeling the loss. A telephone call or card to let them know you haven’t forgotten them during their difficult times can bring much comfort.

I remember a friend telling me, as the anniversary of the death of her daughter approached, that she wanted to scream, “Doesn’t anyone remember my daughter but me?”

Finally, remember to pray for those who are still grieving. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is our counselor and comforter. God knows exactly what that person needs for the day. He can deliver, even though we don’t know what they need.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” -- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4