Nancy’s voice was sorrowful, “Linda, can we have lunch?  I just want to be sure things are all right with you.”  She is a friend and a fellow pastor.  Nancy, also a recent widow, has called me several times since my husband died just to be sure that I’m all right.

We sat for an hour, eating, laughing and crying about our husbands and our present lives.  Over the months of sorrow and grief, I’ve been upheld and supported by many people who have shown exceptional love.  Here are some things that I’ve learned about supporting others and thereby winning friends from the men and women who have loved me through my present situation.

1.  My friends listen.

2.  Again and again, folks allow me to talk openly about my sorrow without interrupting me.

3.  People aren’t afraid to laugh with a me about situations and events that have happened during the last year.

4.  My friends allow me to cry freely without embarrassment.

5.  They take time for me, even though their lives are hurried and busy.

6.  When appropriate, my friends–especially the men–don’t let me drone on and on about my past and present situations.

7.  People haven’t been afraid to give me advice regarding important financial decisions that I’ve had to make.

8.  Giving added support, there have been people who have been proactive about decisions that I’ve been hesitant to make.  Their support has even extended from advice to action when needed.

9.  Close friends have not been afraid to advise me to slow down when they’ve seen me rushing into life-changing decisions.

10. I’ve been assured of the prayers of my friends.  They’ve not been afraid to stop in the middle of a conversation, even in public, to pray for me.  They often say, “I’m praying.”  This gives me great encouragement.

People within the mentally challenged community and their families walk through sorrowful  health and death events.  These are some ways that you may be of help to them.  What are other things that you’ve experienced that also help?