What Grieving People With You Knew about what really helps (and what really hurts) by Nancy Guthrie

Posted on February 1, 2022

You run into an old friend, and as natural as breathing, you ask how she’s doing with a smile. Then, panic strikes you as tears fill her eyes, and she struggles to tell you she’s had yet another miscarriage. Your mind goes blank. Your mouth goes dry – what do you say to show you care and not add to her pain?

Your women’s ministry has a steady stream of baby showers every year, but you notice one woman declines every invitation sent. You wonder why she isn’t excited to join the celebration of new life. Should you ask her why she is avoiding these parties?

You notice a man has been attending church and small group without his wife of only two years. You feel uncomfortable asking why she stays home, but you care and miss her dearly. You remember your husband mentioned a few months ago that he heard they were struggling with infertility. How do you show you care?

These are a few of the many stories we hear and have witnessed personally throughout our years speaking about reproductive loss. Every story is unique and filled with a multitude of hurt and often confusion. Grieving feels so isolating and those hurting need to know we love and care for them. But how?

Author Nancy Guthrie offers a deep well of wisdom in her book “What Grieving People Wish You Knew -about what really helps (and what really hurts).” Nancy dedicates this book to the thousands of GriefShare facilitators she has met over the years as they themselves comforted the thousands grieving sorrow upon sorrow.  

Nancy covers the much-needed topics that we often want to avoid of what not to say, typical things we do say, assumptions we make, and what not to do. Instead, we need to think deeply about our words and actions. Using Scripture and her graceful approach, she offers the reader suggestions on what to say and do and how to battle the assumptions that creep in so naturally. She also writes a beautiful chapter about Heaven and salvation.

And as I have often felt at a loss for words or knowing what to do for my hurting friends, I felt relieved within the first few pages of the book. Nancy writes in Chapter 1, “It’s not up to you to make the pain go away, even though you would love to. Grieving people are not expecting you to make the pain go away. They’re really hoping that you will be willing to hurt with them. That’s what makes a great friend in the midst of grief!” How freeing is just that statement alone! We are to simply come alongside those hurting, letting God lead and bring the ultimate comfort.

We at RLN can’t recommend this book enough as we see it as an etiquette book for all helpers, for any loss. Please read and be confident as a helper. And remember Paul’s words as he writes to the church in Corinth,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4

For hope and healing.


About the Author

Tanya is a certified counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and co-founder of the Reproductive Loss Network. She also serves as Director of Client Services & Education at a medical pregnancy clinic outside Sacramento, CA. She leads a team of Reproductive Grief Care Advocates who provide care and support for men and women experiencing loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, hysterectomy, infertility, and abortion. Tanya also serves as a biblical counselor at her local church. From her extensive years in training and advocacy, she is passionate about sharing her expertise through her work at RLN where she is devoted to increasing awareness and care for reproductive grief throughout churches and community organizations.


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