Death and Grieving

Living in the wake of death is a difficult thing to do. Watching a body retire from this world is not an easy process. The reminders of that person’s life come in small ways. A missing car. An empty chair. A daily phone call that never comes. Little things here and there that add up to the now empty space where a mind, a heart, a soul once occupied. These things aren’t the person by any means, but normal is shattered.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. In the midst of excitement and movement as things seemed to be shifting, growing moving forward, we received several blows of the hammer of death. It’s a part of living – the dying, but no matter how many times I see it, it never becomes any easier to accept.

Kids feel this loss, too. We do worship responses which include written prayers praising God or asking Him for help, comfort, or wisdom. I read these because I want to see where our kids are, what questions they’re asking, what their prayer lives look like. I have seen so many that are dealing with loss and death. Sometimes they need to write, or draw, or play to deal with the complex emotions that come with experiencing loss. A new normal will need to be built, a different life continued.

Give kids the opportunity to grieve in their own way. Be vulnerable with them while allowing them to still feel safe. Say how you feel, let them know it’s ok to feel sad, or angry, or upset. Take time and let yourself and your family process.

May the God of peace grant you and your family rest, opportunities to process and strength to build the new normal.

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Learning to Comfort

Life has been unreasonably hard for my family as of late. We have had some of our family head home to be with Jesus, who loved them so. I am a verbal processor, so part of this is me working through that sadness and loss. Also, having been on the other side of loss and having to comfort another, I have learned a few things.

As Christians, we tend to want to put a spiritual twist on everything. Outside of grief, the statement, “God has a plan,” and “It’s for the best,” and “They’re with Jesus now,” sound perfectly reasonable and kind. Those phrases come so easily to someone who is not in the pain of loss. To a grieving mother, child, friend, or loved one, those phrases can hurt more than we know. These “kind” phrases elicit such thoughts as, “How could this be part of God’s plan?” and “It’s best for whom?” and “That’s nice and all, but I’d rather my loved one be right here, in my arms.”

Even Jesus felt the sting of loss and pain. Losing his dear friend Lazarus broke his heart. He wept, bitterly. And, unlike us, he could do something about it. He could, and did, bring Lazarus back, but even having that power didn’t stop the loss from piercing his heart.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the most helpful phrase to hear when I’m going through loss is, “That’s terrible. I don’t know what to say. I’m praying for you.” Sometimes silence is helpful, especially when accompanied by a hug, a squeeze of the hand, or an arm around the shoulder.

It’s times like these that I’m forced to face the fact of mortality, but also remember that Jesus’ ultimate goal is to destroy death. He will ultimately destroy death, disease, and pain, along with their cause: sin. When that day comes, our tears will be dried and our hearts comforted.

Until then, we’ll have to struggle along in a broken world where we grieve, hurt, and ache. We’ll have to lean on one another and prop one another up, as Jesus taught us to do. Model gentleness and thoughtfulness to your friends and family, remind hurting people that you are there, that God is there, and that it’s OK to hurt and feel sadness.

How have you been approached when you experienced loss? Was it helpful?