This past weekend, our state of Alabama was hit by ferocious tornados. There are 23 fatalities as of this writing. Our hearts are broken for the families that lost loved ones and for people who survived but lost everything they have. For some families it’s both. You can’t dry tears and say anything that can help ease their pain. You can pray for comfort and reach out to give material things to help in a small way.
Loss is a devastating thing. It’s a hurt that lasts a long time and leaves a deep scar. Many of you have been in areas of our country where weather events have left destruction and loss in its path. You try to find something to say or do that will ease the pain of those involved. Everything comes up short. Loss changes you.
How can we as friends and family help when there has been a loss? Everyone reacts differently to loss, and so must we. Some people are angry and bitter, while others are hurt so deeply they can’t even react or speak.
My thoughts are first, you must meet the physical needs of people. Clean, dry clothes, food, and a place to sleep is a welcomed thing. When we have a staff member lose a loved one, we give them a cozy coverlet to snuggle in. Everyone has come back and said that it is the most wonderful thing! There is something about warm and dry that brings comfort.
Second, when there has been a loss of life, showing up and just being with someone can help still the horrible emotions. Someone to hold your hand may be the best thing. People often need someone to talk to and someone to help them find the path of dealing with a death. It’s ok if we don’t feel we have the proper words to say—just being there and listening is sometimes the best.
As we all share thoughts and prayers with the victims of storms, remember that caring and loving is a treasured gift to give anyone who has tragedy in their lives. Even if it is for a short season, the effects will be long-lasting. Loss changes everything, but so does compassion.