Thursday, 23 September 2021

T To Your Health

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

When Someone You Care About is Hurting

© 2014, David B. Biebel, D.Min.

 (Key points from the book How to Help a Heartbroken Friend)

  • Realize that getting involved with a heartbroken person will cost you—time, energy, and love.
  • Be a sounding board—willing to enter the other’s pain and share it with him/her.
  • Listen for and watch for signs of depression and/or suicidal thinking.
  • Be wise enough to say nothing if you don’t know what to say - rather allow the person who’s hurting to unload, without judgment or advice or trying to “fix” things.
  • Realize that being there is more important than almost anything else. A heartbroken person will recall very little of what was said, some of what was done, but he/she will never forget the one(s) who came, and stayed, sometimes without saying much at all beyond, “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.”
  • Understand that really loving a heartbroken person may put your love and faith to the ultimate test because the further you get inside his/her loss, the more uncomfortable you may feel because your understanding of who God is and how He works in our world may not match up with what’s happening or has happened to other person.
  • Your love must be sincere—words like “I care” are empty unless backed up by reality!
  • Understand that loneliness is one of loss’s most devastating outcomes. Most heartbroken people retreat inside themselves because it seems to be the only place that is safe. To be allowed inside is a privilege.
  • Let her/his problem must become YOUR problem. Compassion is “your pain in my heart.”
  • Ask open-ended questions to help the person dig even deeper into his/her thinking process.
  • Make God visible—you represent Him when you try to help someone in Jesus’ name.
  • Realize that part of spiritual healing is verbal transparency before God, which may make you feel uncomfortable. Rather than judging the words, love the person and thank him/her for trusting you enough to let you inside the pain, confusion, doubt, fear, anxiety, or even despair.
  • Don’t try to force resolution before the person is ready. Let him/her decide how long is enough. Otherwise, he/she may act healed in order to gain acceptance and affirmation, and this will only prolong and possibly compound the issues.
  • Expect the person to wonder: When will I stop feeling like I’m raw and torn apart? Answer: “Every person is unique in this regard. But I’ll be with you no matter how deep it gets or how long it takes.”
  • Help him/her see that the way to gain control is by giving it to God, and the way to wholeness after being broken is to allow yourself to be put back together by the Lord.
  • Help him/her see that the “mission” of a person who’s been heartbroken is to develop deeper faith so that he/she will be able to connect with our broken world far better than a thousand three-point sermons.
  • Be proactive. Go to your heartbroken friend rather than waiting for her/him to call.
  • Validate his/her sense of pain and/or disconnection as a part of your long-term goal of connecting him/her with Jesus, who said to His Father, “Why have you forsaken me?”
  • Meet the person where he/she is—i.e. not forcing him/her to embrace yours or anyone else’s agenda, timeline, or other limits on grieving.
  • Weep with him/her until he or she decides there are no more tears to cry—“A sorrow shared is a sorrow diminished; a joy shared is a joy enhanced.” Then when he/she is ready, walk with him/her out of the darkness into the light of life again. In the end, you may be privileged to echo the words of Dante, returning from hell to “the shining world,” “And so we came forth and once again beheld the stars.”[1]


Dr. David Biebel often speaks on this subject. To reach him, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

[1] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Inferno [Hell] Canto 34.

Columnist: Dr. David B. Biebel

DBiebel headshot


Dr. Biebel has authored or co-authored twenty books, including one bestseller: If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? and the Gold Medallion winner, New Light on Depression. His recent releases include Making God Visible and Away in a Manger: The Christmas Story from a Nativity Scene Lamb's Point of View.

His goal is to help people attain and retain optimal physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health (personal wholeness) so they can love the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. He founded Healthy Life Press ( to help new authors with something to contribute in this arena to get their works into print.

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        To Purchase these or any other of Dr. Biebel's titles click HERE


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