Published on January 19, 2018

Helping Others in Their Grief

By Dr. Erling Larson, Volunteer Chaplain, Genesis Spiritual Care

(Excerpts from "What Being a Chaplain has Taught Me about Grief" presented at Genesis 12/15/2017)

“Please remember, it is what you are that heals, not what you know.” - Carl Jung

“Please remember, it is what you are that heals,
not what you know.” - Carl Jung

Grief, loss and suffering are common life issues that we all will face. I have experienced my share of loss and grief personally, and have seen it during my work as a physician, as a volunteer Chaplain at Genesis Medical Centers, and while facilitating a grief group with my wife at our church.

I have learned an important lesson working as a chaplain: We can all provide comfort, care and support for people around us who are hurting and grieving. In most instances, there are no words we can say that will fix anything. Words will not take away the pain that is grief or ease the sorrow of loss. We can't expect to eliminate grief with our insights. What I have learned as a chaplain is that we just need to show up and we can exercise what has been called the "ministry of presence.”

It Is About Listening, Not Speaking

“Sorrow you can hold, however desolating, if nobody speaks to you. If they speak, you break down.” - Bede Jarrett

“Sorrow you can hold, however desolating, if
nobody speaks to you. If they speak, you break down.”
- Bede Jarrett

This ministry of presence is a caring, available, attentive and respectful presence. Even more than this, it is an interpersonal human connection. Each and every one of us can do this. We can walk alongside another in the midst of their pain. We can give them a safe space for sharing and searching for meaning and answers for whatever it is that they are going through. Because letting someone tell their story can be therapeutic, we need to try and let them do the talking and really listen to what they have to say. We need to resist the temptation that we must speak in order to express love; we just need to show up and be present with them.

Help Is Here

We Can HelpFor those who are grieving and need additional help, many resources are available. You can reach out to the Genesis Grief Support Cooperative, the chaplains in the Spiritual Care department of our medical centers, the trained staff at Genesis Hospice, a mental health professional or a faith community leader.

Genesis Grief Support envisions a community where everyone going through the significant loss finds support in their journey with grief.

Get more information or contact a Genesis Grief Support staff member at 563-421-5000.

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