How to Help a Friend Who is Mourning

by Faith & Life, Love and Relationships, Meaning of Suffering

“Without God, the Cross crushes us; with God, it redeems and saves us” (John Paul II). Perhaps something similar can be said of a friend, a presence by our side that brings a little light into our darkness.

How to be that friend? How to be Christ to someone when he or she is suffering?

This video by The Skit Guys throws a little light on the subject. I don’t want to repeat everything in the video, but I would like to highlight a few concepts that I think are most important.

How to Help a Friend Who is Mourning

1. We all suffer. Or, in the words of John Paul II: ” Yes, the Cross is written into man’s life. Wanting to exclude it from one’s own life is like wanting to ignore the reality of the human condition. This is how it is! We are made for life, yet we cannot eliminate suffering and trials from our personal experience.”

2. We shouldn’t have to suffer alone. The “hide it, suck it up and move on” attitude couldn’t be further from the Christian perspective. Courage and strength don’t necessarily imply doing things alone.

3. The best help, many times, is just being present. Sometimes we try and fix the problem, or create some type of distraction, or convince the person that it isn’t so bad… And while sometimes these can help a bit, there’s one fundamental problem: fear. A suffering person can sense it a mile away.

What I have to say about suffering is certainly limited; nevertheless, I think a suffering person needs to know that he or she is able to carry their cross; and sometimes the best way to do that is simply to stay by their side. Don’t try and fix problems that can’t be “fixed”. The pain and the wounds are theirs. We can’t take them away. What we can do is share in that pain, live it with them. The human person is able to undergo an incredible amount of suffering, and do so with joy, if they know they aren’t alone. Picture a child walking in a dark forest. How thing’s change when she feels her hand grasped by her father or mother! They certainly can’t turn the lights on, but it’s enough for the little child.

Perhaps the most eloquent example is that of Mary at the foot of the cross. Her Son, Jesus, was passing through the deepest of all “valleys”. How did she respond? She stood by His side till the end. She allowed her heart to be “pierced”. That, I believe, is the great act of love we can perform.


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