I have a few close friends lately who have lost or are close to losing their parents.  They are going to hospital daily, trying to coordinate getting a sick parent home and having to talk to their children about the possibility of losing Grandma or Grandpa.  I haven’t ever lost anyone who was very close to me.  I have not felt the deep pain of loss or watched someone I love dearly suffer physically.  So I have no clue how to walk alongside these friends.  I have no idea what to say or do and my biggest fear has been saying something stupid but here is what I am learning:
·        Be Honest.  I told both my friends that I have not gone through what they are going through so I don’t have a clue.  I have asked them to forgive me if I do or say something foolish. 
·        Actually Pray. If you tell a friend you are going to pray for them, pray for them.  It is the least we can do and it is the most important thing we can do. 
·        Listen.  It is hard for me to hear two things: crying and silence but I am learning that this is not about me.  I am learning these two things are what hurting people need the space to do most. 
·        Just Do It.  I keep saying, “Let me know how I can help” and I mean that but I am learning that it is better to just take a meal over or text my friend that I’m going to pick up her kids.  Prayerfully act because most of us don’t want to ask for help or don’t have time to think of where/how/when we need help when we are in crisis.
·        Ask for a Miracle. Just because God does not usually heal people does not mean 1) He is not able or 2) that we should not ask Him for that or 3) that we should not ask for one in front of our children. We will teach our children a lot about what we really believe about God when we pray with them for a loved one who is sick or dying.  God wants us to ask Him for the bold prayer but He ultimately wants us to trust Him with whatever His response is going to be. I need to learn that over and over and I need to help my kids see it and learn it too.
·        Don’t get Depressed.  My friends need me to be strong right now and once again, this is not about me.  Often times I believe we get so bogged down with our own sadness that we forget that our friends need us to be strong for them.  It is okay for us to laugh or experience joy in life when our friends are going through hell and back.  When it is my turn to take that journey, I will need them to be strong for me.
·        Don’t over Spiritualize.  One of my best friend’s moms is battling cancer right now and my friend and her entire family have an amazing faith in Jesus Christ.  The last thing my friend needs right now is me telling her things about God that she already knows.  We have got to give others room to process their faith thru the lens of their pain and in their own time when they are going through something awful.  Nothing we can say will do that for them anyway, no matter how good our intentions.

“Dear Lord, as you well know, life down here is really hard.  Help me to be a good friend to my friends who are in such hard places right now and help me to listen more than I speak.  Help me to be thoughtful and help me to help them in the way I would want someone to help me.  I know perfectly well you can heal any illness or infirmity but I also know that after I ask for a miracle I’m supposed to pray for your will, not mine; help us to pray and trust that prayer.  The Bible says that we do not mourn like those who don’t know You.  Please be that rock and hope and joy and peace in the hearts of my friends and their families who are hurting and broken today.  You truly are all we have in the seemingly hopeless and pain filled places and we are grateful You are there.  Amen.”