Since my degree is in Health Education, I used to teach grief classes, and help with the grief group at our local hospital. Many times I wondered how effective it was for me to be leading a group of people who had come together with a common experience, when I, myself, had not actually "walked in their shoes". My life has had its ups and downs, but, for the most part, I have not had to deal with the same kinds of losses that the folks I worked with were experiencing.
What I found was that people who are bent with grief have little to offer others bent with grief. That is why the death of a child, for example, is so hard on marriages. The spouse that you have always looked to for help and support is as devastated as are you. Children who have lost a parent need the surviving parent to step up their game at the very time in which that parent is barely in the game at all. It turns out that these people needed me more than I knew. They needed someone "whole" on whom to lean.
Knowing that makes me feel very sad for the people of Japan who have been most directly affected by the diasters that continue to unfold in that land. How can one's dear neighbors rally around at the time of your loss when they are stricken as well? How do you give emotional and physical support when you yourself are in need of these things? How does a poor man pay another poor man's debt? There is comfort in banding with others who understand what you are going through, but they are not the folks you can lean on.
So, if you have ever wondered whether or not you can help in a time of loss, I am here to tell you that you might be someone's only hope. Don't hesitate. One of the greatest things you can do is listen. Grievers need to tell the story again and again. The story never changes. It is the very finality of loss that creates the deepest pain, so don't get impatient when the story is the same old story.
Ultimately, though, God is the Rock and Fortress that we cling to in times of devastation.
"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
In light of this, think how vital it is to introduce Jesus, the Savior of the world to people. Then, when the bad times come, the Rock of Ages is there, strong and able to save.
You can lean on a Rock.