How To Show Up When Tragedy Strikes
When someone you care about is sick, in crisis, in tragedy, or in the hospital, you might find yourself asking, “What do I do?”
Should I go and visit? Will I be an inconvenience? Perhaps they are getting too many visitors? What are the hospital hours? Maybe I’ll go at the wrong time and just waste a trip. Let me stop you right there.
Just go. Just show up. Err on the side of action.
Even if they’re sleeping when you get there and all you can do is write a simple note letting them know you were there and you love them and are praying, that’s huge. When people are taken out of their normal life routine and put on their backs in a hospital bed, they have lots of feelings. They feel uncomfortable, pain, stress, worry, etc. But there’s one more thing that happens inside of them. They feel vulnerable and wonder, “Do people really care? Will people show up?” And just by you showing up, you are speaking love in a powerful way.
Ok! So you’re resolved to show up when tragedy strikes, BUT when it’s actually time to go,what do you do? What do you say?
Here are just a few things I’ve learned when visiting someone who is in tragedy:
1. Pray beforehand. Ask for God’s hand to be upon your visit. I always feel at peace walking into a situation when I am grounded in the Spirit.
2. Have a passage from the Bible to encourage them. Try and make this personal. What’s a passage that has brought you comfort in a time of need? Maybe write the verse down for them on a notecard. They can hold that in their hand and recite it after you leave.
3. You don’t have to stay forever. Unless it’s immediate family or this is your very best friend in the world, just a short visit is totally acceptable. In fact, staying too long can be hard on the person.
4. You don’t have to have all the “right words” to say. I recommend simply acknowledging their pain, expressing how sorry you are that they are hurting, and then like Pastor Jeff mentioned over the weekend, simply plead their case before the Lord.
5. Finally, if they are home, bring food. Even if you think they have a refrigerator filled with food, bring food. Food is the love language in a time of pain.
Your friends and family don’t need much from you other than your simple and beautiful love and care.
Josh is a husband, father, pastor, and aspiring laundromat missionary. He is incredibly curious about the way people connect with each other and with God.