"Just Walk With Me"

(The Holland Michigan THEOS chapter surveyed its members for suggestions on how clergy and religious congregations might respond supportively to the bereaved in their midst. The following is among the suggestions that were given,)

I have a problem. I want to tell you about it.    No, I really don't. I'd rather keep it to myself; handle -it alone. I do think it would be good for me to share it with you, though I don't want to because of what you'll say or how you'll act.

I'm afraid you might feel sorry for me in a way that makes me feel pathetic. Like I'm some "poor thing".

I'm afraid you'll try to cheer me up. That you will give me words, or texts or prayers that tell me in a subtle way to stop feeling bad. If you do that I'll feel worse (but I'll hide it behind my obedient cheerful smile). I'll feel you don't understand. I'll feel you're making light of my problem (as if it can be brushed away with some brief words of cheer).

I'm afraid you'll give me an answer. That this problem I've been wrestling with for some time now and about which I have thought endless thoughts will be belittled. You can answer in a half-minute what I've struggled with for weeks?

I'm afraid also you might ignore my problem; talk quickly about other things, tell me your own.

I'm afraid too you might see me stronger than I am.    Not needing you to listen and care. (It's true, I can get along alone, but I shouldn't have to.)

What I'd really like is if you would "just walk with me." Listen, as I begin in some blundering, clumsy way to break through my fearfulness of being exposed as weak. Hold my hand and pull me gently as I falter and begin to draw back. Say a word, make a motion or a sound that says, "I'm with you." If you've been where I am, tell me how you felt in a way that I can know you're trying to walk with me - not change me.

But I'm afraid...

You'll think I'm too weak to deserve respect & responsibility...

You'll explain what's happening to me with labels and interpretation... Or you'll ask me, "What 'ya going to do about it?"

PLEASE, just walk with me. All those other things seem so much brighter & sharper, smarter, and expert. But what really takes love is to "Just Walk With Me."

I'm sure, what I want is people who have a Shepherd as their model. People who in their own way bring to others an experience of "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want ...Yes even when I walk through the valley, You're with me.... (walking with me)

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Comment by Nora on May 4, 2017 at 9:09pm

This paper was given to me back in 2006. I printed some copies and gave it to people around me so they would know how to talk with me without teaching, pitying, and giving me answers.

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