What to do if Someone in Your Small Group Dies

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The longer you are involved in small groups the more likely you are to deal with death. Isn’t that an uplifting statement (haha). In this current season it may even be more likely. Death is not a fun topic, it is always unwelcome, even if it is expected, even if the person is better off, no one wants to experience the death of a loved one.

A few months ago, my wife’s grandmother, Grammie, died from COVID-19. It was really hard for us to process our grief during social distancing. No one from the family was able to visit Grammie in the hospital, we were not able to have a funeral. However, there are some things our small group did to help.

Here are some ways you can help someone in your group deal with the loss of a loved one.

Pray and Praise

First praise Jesus that they are in your small group and thank him for giving you the opportunity to share his love with others.

Second, pray for them. You can pray for them to experience God’s comfort. Pray for people to be available in their life to help them talk through their grief. Pray that they will be encouraged to keep faith in God and what He can do. Pray that God will help them with strength and courage to make it through this time.

Don’t give them space, unless they specifically ask for it

Being around someone going through loss can be uncomfortable. And sometimes we can assume that they want space to process. The truth is, most of the time, giving people space is really just our excuse for not wanting to enter into their pain. 

So, be present. Call them, text them, if you can visit them. Just be there, to listen, to mourn with them, to comfort. Your presence means so much more than anything you can say or do.

Do something

When you lose a loved one, lots of people will say, “how can I help” or “I’m here if you need anything.” But when you are grieving you do not know what you need. And you may not have the energy to ask. So, just do something. Don’t ask permission, tell them what you are going to do to help. Not sure what to do…Here are 12 ideas.

  • Shop for groceries or run errands
  • Bring them a meal
  • Take care of housework, like cleaning and laundry
  • Watch their kids or pick them up from school
  • Drive them wherever they need to go
  • Look after their pets
  • Help with funeral arrangements
  • Stay with them at their home to answer phone calls and receive guests
  • Go with them to a support group meeting
  • Accompany them on a walk
  • Take them to lunch
  • Help with insurance forms or bills

Talk about death

It is okay to talk about death and loss. Just because someone dies does not mean their name is now off limits. If you do not talk about their loved one they are not going to forget they died. You can ask them to share memories or stories with you. Ask to see pictures. Let them talk about their loved one.

However avoid saying these things

  • Romans 8:28. This verse is true but it is really not helpful to someone who is grieving.
  • They are in a better place.
  • God wanted them in heaven
  • There is a reason for everything
  • I know how you feel
  • When my ______ died this is how I dealt with it

All of these statements come from a place of wanting to help and comfort. However, they do not do either of these things. If you are unsure what to say, do not say anything, just being there is enough.

I hope no one in your group loses someone close to them. But I know that they will. And when that happens, your group gets to be the church.

For more info,

Saddleback Community Church has a great resource for more info on how to do this well.
https://saddleback.com/connect/ministry/saddleback-works/lake-forest?#tab-3