An Excerpt Adapted from the new book:
Can You Just Sit with Me?
Healthy Grieving for the Losses of Life
Waiting rooms. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my mom as we waited for Dad to get a biopsy. The room seemed particularly full on that day, with groups of families seated together— some chatting, some quiet, some staring off into space.
As we sat in the waiting room, I grabbed a cup of coffee from the small concession counter set up in the back of the room, grabbed a magazine from the table beside me, and began to occupy my mind as we waited for Dad’s procedure to be completed. For a moment, I lifted my eyes from reading to see a man consoling a woman who was crying. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I wanted to look away but couldn’t. I didn’t know what had happened to her or her family, but my heart hurt for her. Then something on the inside of me (I know now, the Holy Spirit) nudged me to ask her if I could pray for her.
My heart thumped harder and harder, like a stampede of elephants. I looked around the room to see if anyone was watching me because I was sure the entire room could hear my heart beating. And like most times when the Holy Spirit nudges me to pray for someone, I questioned it. Really, do you really want me to do that?
So I finally told my mom I’d be right back, peeled myself from my seat, and headed over to this lady. I knelt beside her chair and looked her in the face and asked, “Do you mind if I pray for you?”
Tears streamed down her face, and she placed her hand on mine, nodded, and said, “Yes, please. My husband just went in for emergency triple bypass surgery. Thank you so much.”
So I prayed. I don’t quite remember what I prayed, and I don’t know what the outcome was, but I do believe God comforted her at that moment. Maybe it comforted her that even a stranger would choose to sit with her in this hard time.
The wind blows across our faces when we step outside for a walk—oh, that’s God. The salty air of the beach and sand between your toes—that’s God too. Jesus sits with us even now, even as he sits at the right hand of the Father praying for us.
It encourages me even today, how God can use us and others to be his hands and feet here on the earth to comfort those who need to physically feel his comfort. And even when we feel alone, maybe in the darkest of times in this journey of grief, we are never alone. First, we always have God with us. And second, God will send someone our way to sit with us if it is our desire.
Maybe you are sitting, reading this in a waiting room. Maybe it’s not a literal waiting room but you are sitting in the in-between. Between life after a loss and what to do now or next.
Maybe you’ve thought of the many times you’ve just felt alone. I’ve felt alone for most of my grief journey. I don’t say this to speak against those who love me or those around me. It is simply the truth.
Maybe you’re struggling with how to help someone who is in a time of grief. My husband will even admit to not knowing how to best support me through my bouts of grief. But he truly has grown and learned how over the years, and that in itself is to be commended. When we love those who are hurting, those who grieve, we take action to learn how we can best help and be a support to them.
I’m reminded of an old hymn, “Never Alone.” The song reminds us how Jesus is always with us. How he promised never to leave us. Never to leave us alone. So even when I felt alone, and even when you feel alone, we are never alone.
These days, I find myself more in a supportive community with connect groups at church, writing communities, and prayer groups. I often think, Oh, how I wish I had this during the throes of deep grief. I even had a moment of grief over not having the support that I am now a part of. Because it is just that beautiful . . . someone to sit with me.
Not to ask me invasive questions about the death.
Not to try and fix me.
Not to give me advice.
But to listen . . . to sit with me just for a little while in the ashes, knowing full well, as I know, that I’m not going to stay there. But knowing that I need to sit here for a moment to grieve. To catch my breath. To breathe, and to acknowledge this loss.
I needed that, and I want that for you.
So, can I just sit with you?
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior
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