As of yesterday afternoon, fourteen loved ones were confirmed dead and one hundred or more still missing. The hope of finding survivors is waning as each hour passes; however, the families and friends of those missing are desperately praying for a miracle. The recent mudslide near Oso, Washington spans nearly 2 sq. miles. Search and Rescue teams on foot and in the air are feverishly working to find these individuals. While watching the news, I see the weariness and fear on their faces. They too are praying for a miracle. I can’t blame them.

The families and friends of missing Malaysia Flight 370 also clung to hope. Yesterday they received news that it has been concluded this aircraft crashed into the Indian Ocean. Although it brings closure, their hearts are broken, and they may still “wonder” because the bodies have not been located. This is a terribly painful situation for them to be in. Closure only brings answers as to what happened, it does not end their pain or sorrow. Without the recovery of their loved one’s body, it makes the grief journey extraordinary.

We all want to be of help to the families affected by the Washington mudslide and the families of Flight #MH370 who are now aware that the plane is suspected to have crashed into the ocean. There are so many unanswered questions. The first thing we all need to know is that we do NOT have to try and answer these questions. Our greatest gift will be offering unconditional support to those whose heart is broken.  How?

I hope these suggestions will help:

  • We live in a technology-based world so we are all aware of the situations at hand; however, we may not have any personal connection to these people. Thousands of us watching and hearing the news do not even leave geographically near those impacted. Here is what we can do: Send prayers to them. Prayers they receive answers. Prayers they receive courage and strength in the coming days ahead and prayers they will hold close the precious memories they have of their loved ones. Prayers that we, on the outside looking in, will be patient with their struggles and that the world offers support by understanding the extraordinary torment they are going through.
  • If you do know people who are impacted by the known losses or those who are waiting for news on their loved one, here is what you can do: Be patient. Be very patient with your friend or family member who is struggling with the event. They are on a roller coaster of chaos, fear, despair, hope, wonder, yearning, questioning, anger, frustration and more. This is not an easy path for them. Do what you can to help secure both short-term and long-term supports for them. Lots will be happening around them right now and that is important; however, as the hours and days pass they will need even more support.  Do what you can, but also help to set up supports that can go the duration with them.
    • If you want to help out in some way, but don’t know what to do, try this:
      • Don’t ask, just do – go clean their house. Run errands and pick up things they may need. Do their laundry. Make some food.
      • Encourage your friend or family member to take little rest breaks and promise “you will stand guard” for them and that you will wake them as soon as needed – keep the promise.
      • Be a loving listener. Stay up all night with them and hold their hand.
      • Let them talk. Allow them to cry. Don’t try to fix this because you can’t. Just “walk with them on the journey” and understand they are holding onto hope in the midst of deep despair.
      • Hug them.

Understand that the grief journey is a process, not an event. None of these families or friends will “get over” what has happened. It will take them months, years or a lifetime to reconcile theses losses. They will need our empathy, compassion,  and understanding. They need us to walk with them for however long that takes.  

If you have not signed up yet for my mailing list, please do so and encourage your family and friends as well. Once on the list, you will receive a free copy of my eBook The Most Important Step to Healing a Broken Heart. It’s yours for the asking!


Photo Credit: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/washington-mudslide-no-signs-of-life-out-there-today-1.2583372 Retrieved: March 24, 2014 10:48 am

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