I’ll sit with you

8 Jun

It was one of my first Sundays attending our new ward (congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and Lars had been a bit too squirmy to sit in the chapel, so I took him out to play in the foyer. I chose a seat in an armchair. On the couch next to it sat a woman from the ward–I’ll call her Nancy.

“Come over here and sit by me!” she said.

“Sure,” I said, and scooted next to her.

We introduced ourselves and chatted briefly. Then another woman came into the foyer.

“Excuse me,” Nancy said, and walked up to the woman–I’ll call her Beth.

Beth,” she said, emphatically.

I hadn’t met Beth, but I recognized her name–the bishop had recently announced over the pulpit that her father had passed away.

Beth,” Nancy said. “I’m so, so sorry.” She took her in for a long hug.

I wish I had been able to take diligent notes (or have better memory) of the conversation that followed, but a few things stood out as I observed from the background.

Nancy asked how Beth was doing. She asked how her family was doing. Beth was open about her feelings. “It’s hard,” she said. (It’s hard to wade through grief. It’s also hard to honestly express your sorrow and graciously receive sympathy.)

Nancy responded with openness as well. She mentioned a similar personal situation–the death of one of her own parents–but didn’t try to compare or give advice. She used it to validate Beth’s feelings. “You’re right, it is hard.”

Nancy asked about funeral arrangements and asked if help was needed. “It will be just a graveside service,” Beth said. “That’s just fine,” Nancy said.

Nancy asked if there was anything else she could do. Meals? Cleaning? Watching or picking up kids? Beth reassured her that she and her family would be fine in that regard.

“Well, if you ever want me to come over and just sit with you, I would love to do that. When my dad died it helped me to have someone to talk to and distract me. We can go out and get frozen yogurt if you want. Whatever you want to do, whatever you need. Call me this week and let’s do something.”

Again, a gracious, welcome response: “You know, I think I would like that. I think I will call you.”

The next time I feel at a loss at how to help someone grieving or struggling, I will remember that line, that offer of a woman who knew just what her friend might need: I’ll sit with you. I will remember her friend’s gracious acceptance. And I will be grateful that I had the privilege to eavesdrop on this exemplary interaction between two sisters.

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2 Responses to “I’ll sit with you”

  1. Kris June 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    Holly, this was a really good post. I have always felt bad that I did not respond properly or sensitively when I was younger and friends had lost a loved one. You’re right, this woman did exactly what should be done. That’s a good friend.

  2. Kim Leatham June 9, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Holly, you are amazing at how you can look at things, learn something from them and then express them so that others can use them for their benefit. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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