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Robin Gudal: Helping others in their grief

EN(dur)ANCE by Robin Gudal


Galatians 6:2 Amplified Bible: “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ (that is, the law of Christian love).”

Option B. This is an important read for those who wish to understand others’ grief and their journey. After the sudden death of her husband, author Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again.

Robin Gudal

“I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.”

Her friend, author Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, shared concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

“Joy is a discipline.”

“If grief is intensely personal, the way others process it sometimes is not. There is the profound disappointment of those who do not know how to help (including the non-questioning friends), or the many things that people say to help — ‘I cannot imagine’ — which can be piercing to hear. Grief shattered Sandberg’s confidence, as it does to many it hits.

“‘I just kind of crumbled in every area,’ ‘I didn’t think I could be a good friend. I didn’t feel like I could do my job.’

“Friends and family need to be fiercely present. That does not mean always being around; it means deciding to be present.

“‘Simply showing up for a friend can make a huge difference.’

“She offers some useful phrases: ‘You are not alone’ is better than ‘I cannot imagine;’ ‘I will bring dinner’ is better than ‘How can I help?’ which puts the burden on the grieving one to come up with something to do.

“And as for ‘How are you?’ it can be a punch in the gut to someone already in pain, since the answer is probably somewhere along the spectrum of awful to unbearable. A better alternative: ‘How are you today?’

“Sandberg cites a series of famous experiments looking at stress. People were asked to perform tasks which require concentration while simultaneously being blasted with random bursts of loud noises. Naturally, the participants’ heart rates, blood pressure and sweat increased. They started to make mistakes. But then, when some of those people were offered a button that would let them stop the noises, they relaxed. The amazing thing about the experiment? They didn’t actually press the button.

“‘When people are in pain, they need a button,’ Sandberg says. Friends, families, communities, and workplaces have to step up and find a way to be that button.” — Portions of an April 22, 2017, interview by senior reporter and editor Jenny Anderson of “How to be Human”

“In his presence deep sorrow can coexist with even deeper joy.” — “Jesus Always” by Sarah Young

In honor of my many warrior friends who are living the truth of this book, 2 Kings 20:5b NIV gives you hope and a promise: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”

Robin (Beckman) Gudal, intentional in life, is a wife, momma, nana, friend, a flawed and imperfect follower of Jesus.