Giving some caregiver guidelines

Posted Online: July 19, 2014, 10:40 am
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Have you ever wondered what to say when you're face-to-face with another person's pain?

Ever been speechless when speaking to someone who is suffering?

Or maybe you've been on the receiving end of some well-intended but insensitive comments such as:

"I know just how you feel." You don't. Plus, this shifts attention to you, not them.
"God will give you another child." This is insensitive.
"God must have needed him in heaven." This feels empty.
"God told me that he'll heal you." Really?
"Time heals all wounds." Not always.
"God must be trying to teach you something." This is patronizing and arrogant.
"If you do what I did then you'll be better." Who made you the expert?
"My aunt Mildred had the same problem." Every situation is different. Mildred doesn't matter to the hurting person at that moment.

Our maxims and cute sayings to those who are suffering are not only empty, they can be excruciating. Friends, let's resist trying to "package people's pain." Let's cut out the clichés and jettison the jargon.

Job 2:11-13 gives us some lessons for helping people through tough times. Lessons include: Hear the hurting; sacrifice your schedule; partner with people; go with grace; come with comfort; expect a change in appearance; exhibit your emotions; respond with rituals; and honor with humility.

Other lessons are: Sit with the sufferer; take the time needed; and be silent in the face of suffering.

We could summarize these caregiver guidelines this way: Show up and shut up. Don't stay away and when you come, silence may be better than speech. Incidentally, if you can't visit, a phone call, email, text, a note on Facebook or a card in the mail is the next best thing.
The Rev. Brian Bill is senior pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island, and part of a rotating series of columnists for Faith & Values. He and can be reached at edgewoodbaptist.net.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)