Parish clergy regularly encounter and stand closely with people who are grieving. Sometimes it’s the loss of a spouse or parent after a long and protracted illness. Sometimes death comes suddenly. The minister offers support and comfort and learns that simply being present is often what is most helpful. Clergy also hear what other people say to a grieving person and learn from their efforts how to be helpful.
My friend Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and an occasional writer for the Christian Century, recently lost her husband of 31 years. In an article in the Chicago Tribune she offers advice on what not to say to someone who has lost a dear one, particularly when the death is sudden and unexpected.