When friends or relatives are grieving from divorce or abandonment, we often don't know how to support them. Jesus said, "All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (Jn. 13:35). That love can be expressed in small, yet specific ways.
Pray with them and for them. Be available on a "hot-line" basis, if necessary. One night at our Bible study group, the phone rang and the leader's wife dismissed herself. She was gone for half an hour for a hot line talk-and-pray conversation with an abandoned mother. "Sometimes her emotional pain is greatest at night," the wife later told me privately, "but I told her she can call me anytime."
Psalm 39:2 says, "When I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased." Anger is part of the grieving process for a divorced person and he or she needs a safe place to release it.
3. Send flowers.
Florist arrangements are fine, but home-grown flowers are meaningful, too. One husband scouts garage sales for used vases so that he and his wife can share their roses as a caring gesture.
4. Touch them.
Their loss includes physical touch. They need gentle hugs and a squeeze on the hand or elbow. The same is true for their children.
5. Write a note.
Proverbs 12:25 says, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." One young woman, pregnant and abandoned, began receiving "thinking of you" cards from an older woman, visual evidence of the older woman's compassion and prayerful concern. A couple sent a father (who had initiated the divorce) a caring note along with an article on keeping in touch with non-custody children.
6. Surprise them with a friendly visit.
If you need a "reason" to visit, take along a small gift. One divorcing mother was touched when friends brought her favorite (and expensive) almond candy.
7. Offer your muscles.
When single mothers visited one family, the husband quietly went outside to check on the oil or wash the car. Members of one Bible study weeded and mowed a single mother's lawn for several months. Two women teamed up do do "basic cleaning" on a house that had been neglected for nearly a year. Still another woman mended clothing for a single mother who didn't sew.
8. Provide a meal.
The psalmist correctly depicted the sorrowing person: "My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones" (Ps. 102:4-5). It's especially helpful to provide this kind of support in the first few months of shock and grief. To spare them the trouble of returning dishes, stop by beforehand to get their own dishes or deliver the food in disposable containers.
You could also take them out to dinner or dessert or include them in a family dinner at your home. One man's friends left a dinner invitation for that evening on his answering machine promising "a sumptuous plateful of lasagna at 5:30 or any time later." Or, how about cooking them a birthday dinner?
9. Provide free child care in their home or yours.
Give them the gift of private time to sleep, shop, study, or simply go for a walk alone.
Consider child care an investment in their children, too. One morning a week a divorced dad with full-time custody leaves his son with his married sister. She supervises play between him and her baby, reads to him, gives him a good lunch, and then takes him to school. The morning gives him a substitute sibling relationship, a mother's tender touch, and exposure to a Christian world view.
10. Get your church involved.
Our church provides a monthly dinner, financed and cooked by volunteers, to single parents. The evening includes a program on topics ranging from parenting to basic plumbing as well as time to interact with other single parents.
During the meeting, church members baby-sit for a particular family in their homes. Several of the host families also celebrate the mothers' and children's birthdays, provide emergency child care, pass along outgrown clothing, and do simple repairs on the car or around the house.
Such groups help, but those who find themselves single again don't always fit into organized efforts. Their crises are best met through a spontaneous network of people who care by sharing their abilities, homes, and hearts.
– Discipleship Journal.
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