Supporting the Bereaved During the Holidays

In this Thanksgiving season of cheer and family, Maye and I are prayerfully mindful that there will be many Thanksgiving gatherings and tables throughout our country and our world absent of loved ones because of natural, unexpected, senseless, warring, and tragic death.
All days for those remaining without cherished loved ones are difficult, but days are harder and more painful without the presence of loved ones during holidays, family milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. These are days when those among us that grieve need extra support.
We can provide such support by offering the gift of acknowledging their loss and the gift of listening compassionately. When we listen compassionately, we allow the bereaved to talk about their loved one, keeping their life and memory alive, helping them to heal over time.
We can take the initiative to offer practical assistance, letting the bereaved know that we are committed to walking alongside them during their grieving process for as long as it takes. We can shop for groceries, run errands, stay in touch, watch the children, drive them where they need to go, look after their pets, go with them to a support group meeting, take them to dinner or a movie, or share an enjoyable activity.
As Christians, we can offer the means of God’s spiritual grace to comfort grieving souls. We can share scripture passages of assurance and comfort and we can pray with them and for them so they can experience the promised comfort of Christ to those who mourn. When we pray for those who grieve we take hold of the promise that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Ps. 34:18).” We can pray for those we love and grieve so they can believe they can hope in God. We can pray that God surround them with people who care about them and who can help them. And we can pray that those who grieve and mourn can know that Christ knows exactly what they are going through because he has been through it himself and can relate to us.
We know that amid all the cheer of this holiday season, there are many among us who struggle with grief, loss, and pain; they are hurting, feeling isolated and alone. Now more than ever, our family and friends need a word of comfort and support. As we carry and share in the burdens and grief of others we complete Christ’s law of love.
May the peace of Christ be with all during this and all time.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.
Resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church