The following was originally posted at jimduggan.org on July 23.
Today, we celebrate the life of my mom, Ann Duggan, who passed into the presence of the Lord Thursday evening. I want to share just a few lessons learned from the response of friends over the last four days.
The power of presence
Never underestimate the effect of your presence. So many times, we feel like we don’t know what to say in a given moment. But often, the words we say fade into the background of the fact that we are simply there. One of the most helpful tools to process grief is the opportunity to talk through how we feel. When it comes to helping people grieve, our greatest asset is not our mouth but our ears.
I cannot tell you everything that every visitor has said to me over the last four days. But I can tell you that people were there. In fact, one dear friend came to the family visitation Sunday in spite of her own grief. Even though Sunday was the painful first anniversary of her mother’s passing, she came to comfort us.
Many others came from great distances or despite busy schedules. Friends from previous ministry locations made great effort to be with us. Yes, since my mom’s passing we have experienced the power of presence.
When you don’t know what to say to someone in grief, that’s OK. Just be there for them if you can.
The benefits of a smaller world
Cell phones, social media, and Internet technology combine to make the world seem a smaller place. Information spreads more rapidly and communication happens more easily.
When my mom passed on Thursday evening, we posted the news on Facebook. Our phones reminded us constantly through the evening of the people responding to the news. Text messages began to pour in and phone calls began to come from people sending their prayers and condolences.
Friends whose geographical distance made it impossible to be physically present have reached out continually to comfort us. Miles may separate us physically, but the smaller world created by our technology allows us electronic proximity.
Never hesitate to pass on a word of encouragement. Use technology as a blessing.
The blessing of a faith family
Church has always been an important part of my family’s life. As a child, church was our family’s social center. In times like these, the importance of our faith family really shows.
My mom has not been able to attend church for a long time due to her health. Yet, the ladies in her Sunday school class have always kept in touch with her through calls, visits, and cards. Those ladies have ministered greatly to us these last few days.
My family’s current church family has been incredible. We have received an unbelievable out-pouring of love and support from the people who mean so much to us.
Those who choose to live without active church participation do not realize what they miss in a time like this. We would have had a much more difficult time dealing with our sorrow without our church family.
If you are not an active participant in a local church, find one soon.
To all of those who have reached out to us in any way these past few days, thank you so much. We appreciate more than you know every prayer, visit, call, and expression of love and support.