Last night my son received news that his friend’s father, who was battling cancer, had passed away.
As I read his status on facebook, there were certain phrases that caught my eye; how surreal the situation was, unfinished promises, asking for God’s peace.
I thought back to when our good friend Bob died. Jim and I were in a bible study with him and his wife, Nancy, and several other couples. It was such a shock to have him with us one day and gone the next…no warning, just gone.
I remember sitting outside the emergency room doors after we got the news that he had passed. Although there were other church members and friends present, our group had gathered in one place to ourselves. Someone said, “This is so surreal; it just can’t be happening!”
Years before that, my brother committed suicide. I remember thinking… this can’t be happening…it must be a dream…why can’t I wake up?
Loss of a loved one, whether after a long illness or a sudden loss, drops us into a dreamlike state of being. Other losses, like divorce or losing a job, can have the same effect on us. What do we say or do to comfort those who are experiencing a loss in their life? What words of encouragement can we offer?
When my brother died, I remember. The well-meaning people who had the clichés, “It was God’s will” or “I know how you feel” or “He’s in a better place”. I had one lady stand beside me and ask who found him!
But there was also few people who stood out to me, not for their words, but for their actions.
One lady cleaned and did laundry at our house while we were at the funeral. My husband’s family took care of our young children and many brought food to our home. But one lady stands out in my mind…a lady from our church named Susie.
I knew Susie from church, but not well. She’d never met my brother or any of the rest of my family outside my husband and sons. But Susie came to the funeral home during the visitation and quietly sat beside me for hours. I don’t remember her saying a word. I just remember drawing strength and comfort from her presence.
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.”
Do you know someone who is facing a loss today? What words of comfort would you offer to them? What actions can you take to help ease their burden? How can you be the hands and feel of Christ.
I Peter 4:10 says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” What gift do you have that ease someone else’s suffering?