Caring for Each Other
Back when we talked about designating this recent February as Caring Month in our congregation, I had no idea I would be one of the ones who would need caring for. I knew my father had been trying to die for a long time, but he chose February 4th as his final exit date, leaving me and my family in need of some care and comfort.
And I must say, you came through in spectacular fashion, with cards and letters, expressions of support, and hugs - don’t forget the hugs. Thank you very much - I will not forget your many kindnesses.
Caring Month, indeed!
In an area like our own, this sort of care can seem to become more than commonplace. It is only reasonable that a congregation such as ours would experience more loss like this than congregations in other parts of the country. It’s not that we’re more reckless or foolhardy; we’re simply older, on average, and so the actuarial probabilities catch up with us. Nature will always take its course, and so the tasks we are given to learn are to celebrate each other while we can and to experience every day of life as a marvelous gift.
During the past couple of weeks, I heard a dearly beloved member of this congregation say that, yes, when she had suffered a great loss, the congregation had initially come through with flying colors for her as well, with cards and letters and condolences in abundance. But soon there came a time when the expressions of care ceased, and it felt to this person as if she might be invisible, as if no one knew quite how to simply approach her and ask, “How are you doing today?”
Obviously, it can be hard to know what to say to someone you know to be grieving. Many of us have heard outrageous things said by friends or acquaintances whose only desire was to reach out and say something nice, but alas.
It is a risk, no doubt, to reach out. But it is a risk worth taking if the alternative is to leave someone feeling invisible.
I know that “How are you?” can sometimes sound like the person asking is not serious in wanting to know, is only trying to get away, is eagerly hoping to hear, “Oh, I’m fine.” But a sincere “How are you?” can also be the most open way to find out truly how someone is doing. It can be the best way to offer care to a person who desperately needs it.
One other question comes to mind that might indicate that you care more than you’re able to say in that moment, and that would be, “Would you like a hug?”
While it’s always best to ask first, don’t forget the hugs.
Holding you in my heart,