Recently I was traveling home with two dear friends from a deeply moving funeral, when we noticed a car along the side road just off the highway.    It was windy, rainy, and cold.  The hood of the car was up with a female looking under the hood.  We decided to detour from our route and see if we could offer assistance.  As we pulled up I realized I knew this person and she started to share the circumstances of her situation.  We listened and then offered to give her a jump start.   She was then able to resume her journey, get back onto the main highway, and continue.

Reflecting on that time with her, coinciding with our return journey from a funeral, it suddenly was clear the gift we were given as a lesson for serving in a time grief.

Pause – grief is a powerful emotion that we can often feel unprepared for, surprised about what triggers our grief, the intensity of it, and the waves of grief that can return over time.   Grief calls us to pause, slow down, and in a safe place within ourselves and with others we are comfortable with, gently explore our grief.   As a person supporting someone in grief, we too are called to pause from our activities, our judgments, our own personal fears or beliefs.  Sit with another while they explore and share their grief.  We pause to provide an opening for them to pause.

Listen – when grieving, our heart and soul are asking us to listen to the wisdom within, the hurt within, the love within, the tenderness of humanity within, and the strength within.   As a friend supporting, we are called to give the most precious gift; listening with our heart wide open.  We have no expectations. We provide that open space where there are no answers.  We bring our listening heart to hold the depth of another’s sorrow.

Support – in our own grief we reach out to others when we are ready to do so.  It might be a family member, a dear friend, someone we know who experienced deep grief and loss and found their way through, a person we trust.  It might be a grief support group or counselor.  Often we find the heaviness of our grief lessened when shared with another who can hold us in that sacred space.   When given the privilege of listening to another share their deep grief, we relax into the understanding that our best way to serve is to be present.  Knowing we cannot fix anything, but rather we can help hold that moment of reflection and insight for them.

There’s a wonderful quote from Ram Dass, “We are just walking each other home.”    I see many roads of service along that walk.  We don’t need to know where their journey takes them.  We just need to be present along the way.  May we remain open to those detour opportunities.