Oh, Be Careful What You Say to those who Grieve
Penny Kendall, author of the blog The Journey of a Grieving Heart, is no stranger to grief. In 2006 her oldest son was killed while serving in the military in Iraq. At the time, Penny and her husband, Brandi, were working as missionaries in Estonia. They continued working there for another year before returning home to the United States for a time of healing.. It was her experience that motivated Penny to offer what had become invaluable to her … photographs. As a professional photographer, she has served with two important photography charities — — Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (bereavement photography) and Operation Love Re-United (For Families of Deployed Soldiers).
Penny says, “One of the things I came to realize quickly is that in the church, we are very good at ministering to people in the moment of grief but not too good at understanding what is helpful past those first few days. This is what became my primary message as a retreat speaker and a writer … and what prompted ‘The Journey of a Grieving Heart‘ blog. My great desire is to minister to those grieving and to also help others minister to the grieving well.”
One of Penny’s blog posts, “What Not to Say to the Grieving“, specifically shows that when we minister to others we often don’t know what to say. In our attempts to comfort we often, without intending to, cause more pain and sorrow. Featured below is her post. Be sure to click the See More link to read all of the post and be encouraged in what to say and what to avoid saying when ministering to the grieving heart.
_____________________________________________________________When someone we care about is suffering, it is just a natural response to try to do something or say something to make their pain go away. We don’t want them to hurt … we want to make it stop for them. Unfortunately, this desire can often cause well-meaning people to share ‘words of wisdom’ that can be far from encouraging or helpful. In visiting with those who are grieving, the subject of what people have said to them is very often a topic included in the conversation. And … if you were to search the words ‘what not to say to the grieving’ on your favorite search engine, you may be shocked to find that there are more than 1 million entries on the subject. This, it seems, would be a bold indication that inappropriate words from others are a continuing concern among those who have suffered deep losses. After the tragic death of my 21-year-old son, I was often taken aback by the words that people would offer to advise me or comfort me in my pain. My desire to be tolerant and gracious demanded a meek smile and kind eyes in response to their words but my mind and heart did not always agree with what I insisted my face portray. The platitudes that people offered would sometimes cause me to chuckle and shake my head to myself. Sometimes that was the only way to keep the tears from spilling over … but in truth, the words weren’t really funny at all. They were often not only evidence of the speaker’s lack of understanding of what my wounded heart was feeling … they could also be very insensitive and hurtful. To find out what NOT to say to the grieving SEE MORE of “What Not to Say to the Grieving.”
Penny and her husband have returned to the mission field, this time to Singapore. You can read more about their mission work on their website “Kendalls: on Mission” or follow along on their facebook page.
Penny and Brandi are the parents of 5 additional children, all of whom have grown into adulthood. They have been married for 37 years and are now the proud granparents of 10 grandchildren. They have worked in ministry for more than 30 years in 4 different countries.
Fulfilling a long time vision to minister to those ‘on mission’ with God, the Kendalls have recently established “Empowering For Mission“ … a Christian Life Coaching ministry. She says, “We are both Life Coaches. We do marriage coaching together, focusing our service on those in ministry & missions but in addition, each of us have our ‘specialties’. He does spiritual & faith coaching and … I do parent coaching and grief coaching.”
About her background Penny states: “I come from a difficult non-Christian background of alcoholism, divorce, and abuse therefore as a young Christian woman I diligently sought the ‘older woman’ to help me understand what God expected from me as a mom and wife. Now that I AM an older woman, I have a great desire to be what God expects from me in that role which is what prompted the ‘Life as A Crazy Quilt.'” Which is Penny’s personal blog.
Be sure to stop in at “The Journey of a Grieving Heart“ to read more from Penny about how to help in time of grief. Which may be one of the most overlooked areas of ministry within the church.
~~This post was written by team member Renee.