Lifting Up a Grieving Friend

I answered the phone and immediately knew something was wrong. Then, with a small, shaky voice, my best friend said, “My Dad is dying.” Well, this just couldn’t be true, I thought to myself. Her brother suddenly passed away only months ago, and now her Dad - nope, I thought. That’s not fair. However, it was true and about week after that phone call her father passed away.

Emily has been my best friend since before I can remember (our mothers were friends in high school). She was (and is) one of those girls everyone just wanted to be around - funny, exciting, beautiful and super-talented. She could energize an entire room by just being there. Emily and I met Adrienne when she moved down the road from me around the age of 5, and the three of us have been close ever since. Frankly, during our middle-to-high-school days, we thought we owned our little hometown (population 14,000). Between Emily’s vivacious character and Adrienne’s no-nonsense, get-to-the-point attitude, then you add in my unique fashion sense and thrill-seeking ways - and let’s just say we were a little much for many of the townsfolk. We were a force to be reckoned with - we were strong, invincible and as far as we knew, we ruled the world.

Now jump forward 20 years with me - I’m just sitting there holding the phone to my ear as my normally up-beat friend is in so much pain that she isn’t even making noise anymore. All I hear is her gasping for air every 10-to-12 seconds. And, I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I had no words. I had nothing for her. She was in the worst pain of her life and I had nothing.

I prayed nonstop for the entire 4-hour road trip to my hometown. I asked God to give me the words, to give me the actions, to give me the steps to fix it so that Emily and her family weren’t in pain anymore. I picked Adrienne up on the way and we headed straight to Emily’s house.

When I walked in the house, I immediately felt a deep sadness and brokenness - the feeling permeated the room - and it was then that I realized I was not there to fix her nor could I if I tried. And, in that moment, I was able to speak God’s truth to her, and finally, I was able to find the words that for some reason just weren’t there before.

Adrienne and I never left her side - from the funeral arrangements to visitation to the funeral reception. If she needed a moment, it took one look from across the room, and we just walked outside and took ourselves a little moment. If she needed some alone time, we made sure she got it. If she needed to completely melt down, we gave her room to do that. We did what we could and after that, we just had to trust that God would do the rest.

Still today (months later), Emily, Adrienne and I reach out to each other every week. Sometimes it’s just a text that says “How you doing, Em?” “Where you at?” or “We are here. You have us.” I sent her a figurine of three friends standing in a row with a comforting message. I also followed up with the book Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong and she’s already posted several of her favorite quotes from the book to social media. It is my hope that these weekly check-ins, these small little follow-ups and our ever-increasing bond will lead my friend to loving arms of God so that He can bring healing to her heart. And that would be the best thing I could ever do for her.

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