Maybe it’s because of my age, but I have been overwhelmed lately with a number of friends and family dealing with the dying and death of loved ones. About two weeks ago five of our friends had family members near death at the same time. My husband and I went to two services last week and were planning to attend another one Wednesday when the threat of ice forced the family to reschedule it.
Those in my generation, the Boomers, are dealing with both ends of life right now. We are joyously celebrating the birth of grandchildren and also watching our parents, aunts, uncles, mentors, and teachers die. During the past three years my husband and I buried three of our four parents and one of my husband’s brothers. At our age the number of friends dying is accelerating as well. Just this morning I learned of the sudden death of a man from a former church.
Today I am greatly burdened for those who grieve.
As I remember how difficult it was when my father died right after my thirty-third birthday, my heart hurts for our niece and nephews who are also dealing with the loss of their dad far too early. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to lose a spouse or a child, never having dealt with grief that intense.
My heart goes out to a friend whose mother recently passed away after living with her for a number of years. It’s got to be more difficult to bear the loss of a parent when they are there all the time every day. Everywhere you turn there must be memories.
So what is my point? To give hope and counsel that I wish I had heard years ago.
For those of you grieving, I pray that you grieve well. Don’t fall for the lie that you should be strong and cheery. There is an inner strength in expressing what is on the inside honestly with God and people. Our culture is uncomfortable with both death and grief; we don’t know how to do it well. If you are bearing a loss of any kind, take time to grieve. Tell God exactly how you feel because he will bring comfort as you walk with him through the darkness. Lean on your Christian brothers and sisters who support and pray for you. And know that the pain will ease eventually although the loss will always with you.
For those of us who want to support and love others well, it’s good for us to be quiet and listen. Someone hurting doesn’t need our platitudes or Bible verses as much as they need the gifts of our presence and a listening ear. We can’t fix it and should not try. Give love, prayer, and presence. Weep with those who weep, and celebrate with them those whom they have lost.
“For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecc. 3: 1-2a, 4