One of the best ways to help a friend who is grieving.

Years ago I read a short devotion to my children that had a tremendous impact on my understanding of helping others in a time of their sadness.

This devotion was a poem, comprised of just two short stanzas, written by a man who had mourned over the loss of his two sons.

  • In the first stanza a man came to visit this father and stayed a long time. The visitor talked and talked while saying all the right things. The grieving father could not wait for his friend to leave.
  • In the second stanza another man came to visit. This man sat and listened.  He interjected rarely and briefly and listened some more. This friend was a great source of comfort and encouragement. The father hated to see his friend leave.


Oh, the importance of listening.

This brief but powerful devotion taught me the importance of simply being present…to welcome silence…to listen.

Over the years, I’ve recalled this great truth when I’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting for me to “go.” I’ve pondered on it as I’ve wrestled in my heart (not trusting the Lord) with insecurities that have, in the past, produced an outcome of disobedience.

  • “But, I don’t know what to say.”
  • “But, I don’t think we’re close enough friends.”
  • “But, I don’t know how to make things better.”
  • “But, it will be awkward.”
  • “But…” you fill in the blank.

Each of those thoughts is me-focused, completely void of trust, placing my own desire for security over complete surrender to be fully used by God.  He has called us to be about others. He has also promised to equip us to do the work He calls us to do. When my eyes are off of self, I clearly see how God so graciously has chosen to use me to meet a need He is aware of. I just need to trust, to go, to be… available, to listen.

As I learn life lessons, I am intentional to pass them on to my children. My desire is that their response to His still small voice be an easy obedience, based on more than knowledge taught, and filled with a history of personal experiences individually and as a family of hearing and serving…of going and just being there…of feeling comfortable to just listen. I have a passion for involving my children in seeing needs in our everyday life, wherever we are.

May they easily obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go, to serve, to do, to just be… and may THAT PASSION FOR CHRIST AND FOR OTHERS burn with such intensity that they give no win to thoughts of insecurities, inadequacies, or inabilities.

These three dear friends are the epitome of this message. They came over to my home after hearing my son had cancer (December 2015). They sat and listened, unafraid of silence, not interjecting their own thoughts, giving me time to process and share my heart.

These three friends came over to my home after hearing my son had cancer (December 2015). They sat and listened, unafraid of silence, not interjecting their own thoughts, giving me time to process and share my heart. 



Being comfortable just listening is a powerful skill. One for both the extrovert and introvert alike.

A common challenge, particularly for extroverts is to allow silence. We think silence is awkward or uncomfortable and try to fill it with words. A quiet presence is peaceful, comforting, and encouraging.

Another common mismanagement of our tongues in a time of someone else’s grief is saying “we understand” and sharing our own story (about self, you understand),. We are unaware of our mistiming.

Our story is not important at that time, and quite honestly the recipient of the story is often thinking of how our story is in fact, not like their story at all.

Our story can wait.

Our calling is to be like the second man who went and sat and listened.


Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

May God be honored as He calls and we respond by being of great comfort to others as we listen.


Rhonda whoneedsyourlisteningeartoday? ellis


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  1. Sondra

    We call this the Gift of Presence and the Gift of Silence. Most of us do not understand the power of these gifts. I was blessed with a dear friend that not only understood this power, but excelled in it. When my daughter was in treatment, I would have to stay in the waiting room, so I spent the time praying for her. My friend would just quietly sit down and read her Bible or hold my hand and silently pray, also. I wish I had the words and opportunity to tell her what peace that gave me.

    • Thank you for your beautiful words, Sondra. They are powerful. What a treasure to have a friend like that. I like “Gift of Presence” and “Gift of Silence.”

  2. Glenn Lassiter

    A kind word or a remembrance down the road can make a huge difference to the knew who are grieving. A couple years after Nathaniel’s death, I went to his grave site on his birthday. One of his high school friends had left a rose and a note on his grave. Unbelievable sense of knowing that someone else shared your grief.

    • Glenn, thank you for that specific example of a precious treasure of a gift. Very powerful. What a beautiful way to remember.

  3. Tracey Cavender

    Great reminder and a timely article. My coworkers son just passed away. In my own experience, when my Dad passed away, I vividly recall the friends who were present in my life that week. Yet I have no recollection of anything that was said! Their loving presence was so comforting.

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