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4 Ways To Help Someone in Crisis

Young plant

I’m not particularly qualified by profession or education to offer counseling or therapy, wisdom or advice. I don’t have a doctorate or a master’s degree, I’m not a theologian or philosopher, and I can’t talk about the economy or politics or the universe. I will say, though, it is widely known in my small circle that I make a most perfect s’more in the microwave, I am super good at tucking sleepy children into their blankets, I know how to pack a fun and diverse picnic basket, and I can text with the thumb dexterity of a 14-year-old girl. There are some things I’m good at, and they say you learn by doing. Four years ago, my husband died in my arms on our bedroom floor after twelve hours of a misdiagnosed illness that doctors thought was the flu. If it’s true that you learn by doing and that life’s circumstances make you an expert in your own trade, then I am by default highly qualified to talk about how to mend a broken heart and shattered life.

In my first book, And Life Comes Back, I wrote, “I belong to a third culture now. I am neither a whole, healed woman, nor will I wear black and grieve forever. I belong in this nebulous in-between place. We are a growing demographic, the brokenhearted us. You might belong on this team roster, or perhaps you are walking alongside someone who is. If you are wondering how to help someone in this place, let me tell you what I’ve learned.” Here is my short list of what is helpful—and what is not.

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Young plant

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Hi Old Friend! Remember me?! Your Saturday night reader? Well, it’s not Saturday, but I have been working an evening shift tonight! I haven’t come to visit in a while. I see you have a new book out now! Congratulations! And I see you have a new set of trials to deal with this summer…God bless you! Breaking a foot in six places is quite a feat (or should I say, “foot”)…he does it up right, huh?! Oh my! Prayers for complete healing…
    My dad has had Alzheimer’s for 10 years and God finally called him home to heaven a few short weeks ago. My grief is different than yours–for one reason that I have had a LONG time to say goodbye. I lost my dad years ago, even though he was still alive.
    BUT, I must tell you, this article has been so helpful, so timely. (Even down to the last line about the thank you notes…did you read my mind??!?)
    Thank you, Tricia.
    Blessings to you. Keep writing from your heart.
    Kim A.

  2. Good words. Good insights.
    Here is my response to your thoughts:
    Helpful: “I’m bringing dinner for your family.” – Truthfully, we are prob NOT going to do this unless we see you next year in Colorado. If you were closer, we would bury you in meals.
    Not Helpful: “If there’s anything you need, give me a call.” – This is in the “Mary Poppins” category – “It is something you say when you simply don’t know what to say”. It would be better if they took Bambi’s mother’s counsel: “If you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all”.
    Helpful: “I’m sorry. I am so sad for you.” – It is never wrong to “weep with those who weep.”
    Not Helpful: “He’s in a better place.” – Love your response. Can’t improve on it.
    Helpful: “You’re welcome to join us.” – Meals, popcorn and movie night, 3 extra tickets to an event – there are so many possibilities and it is a win / win.
    Not Helpful: Expectations and commitments. – Even if someone has been through a similar experience, they cannot know your heart and mind on any given day. “Love one another” is always right. Discern between “wanting” the best for someone and “expecting” anything from a hurt life.
    Helpful: “I know you don’t think you can, but you’re doing this.” – Speaking truth into someone is life changing. They will remember that moment and those words for the rest of their lives.
    Not Helpful: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This wonderful verse is found in 1 Assumptions 2:7. That phrase is actually NOT in the Bible. God actually allows us to experience stuff we can’t handle on a regular basis. It prompts us to seek a loving God and obtain grace. Grace is God’s power to do what we simply can not do.
    Very helpful: your passion to speak the truth in love and help others grow.

    • Well said, Tom!!!! And I can see your personality shining through it. Miss ya, dude.

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