When we miscarried our second baby, a pastor whose child had died days before his due date warned us that people would say insensitive things to us in an effort to sooth our grief. “Just smile and thank them. They want to be the one who helps you.” He was right. We heard, “He or she is in a better place.” “This grief will pass.” “Now you have a little angel in heaven.” We never forgot his advice, and we resolved never to say those things to someone who was grieving a loss.”
Recently, a friend has been grieving the unexpected loss of his wife after nearly thirty years together. He has shared his honest and sometimes raw emotions via social media, graciously allowing his online community to be a part of the grieving process. In a medium that many people use to create a false image, he is allowing a rare glimpse into real life. While reading his posts, I have laughed, cried, and reflected on my own marriage of 26 years.
After reading social media comments, I have thought about what I would say, so I have been reflecting on Jesus–what would He say or do? At the grave of His friend Lazarus, He cried. Then, He did what any one of us would do if we could–He brought Lazarus back to life! Finally, when the time came, He beat death and came back to life. Instead of a fearful black hole, He made death a passage through. To Martha, Lazarus’ sister, He explained, “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all” (John 11:25 MSG). He wanted her to feel hope again.
So, to my dear grieving friend:
This loss is so sad.
Nothing I can say or do will make the pain better.
You may be barely hanging on to your faith today, and that’s okay.