Sorrow for the families who lost their daughters lingers. The wonder of it all turns in my head. Memories of my own loss mingle. Crowds pack churches. Their vibrant smiles still light up the room. Laughter and tears lose themselves in one another. Out of the mouths of those for whom the loss is greatest flow words of hope. Rejoicing. Celebration. Comfort. They stand before multitudes, broken hearted and full of joy. I marvel. I start to ask how it’s possible, but I know. I’ve experienced it. The power of God strengthens. The grace of God carries. The love of God fills. The peace of God consumes. And even in the moments when grief cripples, God is more than able.
I didn’t know Anne. Yet I weep. Ask anyone who knows me. I’m not a crier. I wish I was! There’s such cleansing and release in a good cry. Sitting among loved ones and friends, as the family remembers and shares, then says their final goodbyes, I weep. God’s word whispers. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
I knew Katie. Loved her. Prayed with her. Absolutely adore her family. One of hundreds at Katie’s wake, it truly is a celebration. Standing before the coffin that holds their daughter’s body, mom and dad hug, comfort, smile, laugh, and talk about God’s goodness. Now. In the midst of their greatest loss, they can’t say enough about how great their God is.
Hands raised high, voices lifted up, Katie’s funeral is an all-out worship service. No tears. It’s almost as if it would dishonor her desires to cry. She was a worshipper. She is a worshipper, just now it’s in heaven. We simply join her. And God’s word whispers. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
You see, these families do not grieve as those who have no hope. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thess. 4:13-14). I look up sorrow in the Greek. As expected, it means to grieve. Not expected: “to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple” (www.blueletterbible.com, I Thess. 4:13, Strong’s G3076, Feb. 15, 2012). These families grieve, but they don’t grieve without hope! As they grieve, hope shines forth. They affect others with joy, not sadness. They cause rejoicing, not grief. They throw others into celebration, not sorrow. They put others at ease, protecting them against hopelessness and despair. In them, we see the hope of eternal life. And the gospel goes forth. In rejoicing and weeping.
I think that’s how we do it. Help them. When the busyness of wakes and funerals eases. When they re-remember every morning when they wake. When going through their belongings leaves them doubled over on the floor. When there’s nothing one can do to take away their pain, what do we do? “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Those days are close. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe you know these families, or you know others reeling from death right now. Or perhaps you’ve been through it yourself. When only the supernatural will do, what practical things can we do in the natural to rejoice with them and weep with them? What does that look like when we have no idea what to do?
If you’ve experienced the comfort of others in loss, please comment below and share the things they did that made a difference in your grief. Let’s be a forum where we spur one another on to good works by teaching and training in areas where we have experience that will benefit others.
To the right below my signature there’s a link that counts the comments for a particular post. Just click that link and it will bring up a comment box.
A few things I can share from the loss of my mother:
1. Call. Even if you don’t have any idea what to say, call. Tell them you love them. Ask them what you can do. Know the answer is likely going to be, “Nothing.” And keep calling.
2. Ask. I love to talk about my mother. It keeps her alive to me. I felt like people were tired of hearing me talk about her. They had moved on with their lives, yet my life didn’t go back to normal. When a friend would call and ask me questions about my mother, it helped. It healed. It kept her alive.
3. Pray. Prayers can be felt. Literally. Tangibly. And it makes a defined difference.
4. Understand. On the days when the pain cripples, be there. Be near. Be available. Hold them. You don’t have to say a thing. Just be there. If there’s something pressing they feel must be done, do it for them. Run interference. Cook. Grocery shop. Clean. Run errands. Take the kids. If it’s a need you can identify and you have the ability to meet it, do it.
5. Remember. Sorrow flows in waves. It comes crashing when you least expect it. Even when life seems normal again, remember. Cycle back through one through four.
Even though we don’t grieve as those without hope, there are days it’s going to hurt. Debilitate. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus. To the ones who have lost, and to those who are watching.
Please comment! Share your experience or a word of comfort for those who mourn.
May the Lord love through us as we become wholly His today.