I remember the day that I learned how much it hurts to lose someone you love. I was twelve years old, and it had been a week since my uncle passed away. The morning of his funeral, I was convinced that the adults needed to see things with spiritual eyes. In all my eighth-grade wisdom, I wondered why they didn’t understand that we should be happy because my uncle, a devoted Christ follower, was now in the presence of Jesus, free from pain and worry.
I remember getting in the car to ride to the funeral, my dad driving while brushing the constant stream of tears from his eyes. I seized the opportunity.
You’re probably wondering why I’m not sad, I piped up. I honestly don’t know how my parents put up with me. It’s because I know he’s in Heaven, and I think we should be happy about that.
I could see my dad’s teary eyes focused on me in the rearview mirror. I am happy for him, he said. But, I’m going to miss him.
When the funeral ended, I filed past the casket like everyone else, then I sat down in the chapel as was the custom, the family spending a last few moments there before going to the burial. I watched my dad and his oldest brother weep. I watched my uncle’s wife and children grieve and mourn and cry out, and as all this unfolded, I had this life lesson hit me like a freight train: death hurts. It leaves behind a trail of tears and heartache and loneliness and questioning and longing. I sat there, watching my family pour out their sorrows in that funeral home chapel, and suddenly the truth, the hard reality of being a human being fell all over me. I cried until I couldn’t breathe anymore.
Are you ok? my mother asked, and I could tell that she recognized that God was teaching me a weighty lesson.
Since that day, I’ve attended many, many funerals. Lots of times I don’t even know the families, but am there to sing and try to minister to them in their sorrow. And, each time I see that familiar heartache, that great pain of letting go of someone you love.
If we turn to the Bible, there are so many verses of comfort and truth for Christians when it comes to death. I myself have sent these verses to grieving friends, as a way to encourage them. But, can I tell you the honest truth? Maybe we shouldn’t. Do you think it lessened my dad’s heartache on the day he buried his brother for me to remind him that we don’t grieve as the world grieves? Of course, he already knew that. But, he needed to grieve. To mourn deeply. To miss his brother. And, he still misses him to this day. The ache doesn’t disappear, even when you know the truth about the hope that you have. Because the reality is that my dad is here and his brother isn’t. And, that never stops hurting.
So, I write this a reminder to myself, and to all of us. Christians mourn, too. And, it’s okay. We don’t have to quote scripture at each other every time someone is grieving. Bad things happen in this life. Sadness is a hallmark of the fallen world we live in. Maybe the way that we can really mourn with those who mourn is just by sitting beside them, letting them be sad. Because even if we have the deepest understanding of the joy of the Lord as our strength, there are days when grieving Christians will need to cry. After all, the Bible doesn’t say we don’t grieve. It just says we grieve in a different way, because behind every tear is the hope of Jesus Christ and the place He has prepared for us.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Some days, you don’t have the energy to try to respond to your grief in a “Christian” way. Maybe it’s okay to hurt and be angry for a little while. God made me, and He is fully aware of my humanness and imperfection, so He is neither surprised nor disappointed when I just can’t do it on my own. He is there. For whatever I need. Thanks for posting this tonight. It’s been a challenging day, but I’m hoping for new mercies in the morning!
This is a good post Melissa. Just being present for someone grieving, hugging them, keeping in contact long after the funeral is so important and should not be minimized.
Laura, we are so human. Being angry with God is perfectly normal and okay. He understands. He does know our heart. As Christians we do have the “peace that passes all understanding”. I hope you received your mercies this morning. I too had a difficult day yesterday dealing with family needs. They are looking to me for guidance and “nursing” knowledge. I felt God with me all day, keeping me strong.
Thank you, Barbara. Today was a much better day! I felt more at peace with my situation when I awakened. I pray that God will guide you in how to best help your family.
Thank you for this. I’m grieving the loss of my younger brother six months ago and this week I just sat & shared with a friend who is grieving the loss of her son 4 months ago. While we both know they are safe with Jesus, the parents, children & siblings of both that are left behind are so very sad & hurting. And some days all you can do is cry.
In the spring I lost a very dear friend to cancer. She was gone in five weeks from the time the cancer consumed her body. I was so relieved God took her as soon as he did. I sat through her memorial service, again, thanking God for not allowing her to wither away. Two months passed and one Sunday morning as we sang “When We All Get to Heaven” the tears began, I excused myself from the service, and cried my heart out. I had not grieved for her, I had shed tears, but not grieved for my loss.
So true. We really need to learn to grieve appropriately. God is close to the broken hearted and if we push the grieving away, we miss that tender tending of the Lord in our sorrow. Thank you for beautifully telling TRUTH <3
Thank you! I love it when people, especially Christians, realize that there is more they can do for someone who is grieving the death of a loved one than quote scripture. Today would have marked my 10th anniversary with my late husband. He died 3 years ago. What stands out the most to me that first year was the close friends who were there in the middle of the night to listen to me cry over the phone, who would comfort my kids when all I could do was sit and cry and who continue to go through the emotional cycles of grief that come even still. I remember when your uncle died. Shortly after, I became best friends with one of his daughters. I remember seeing his wife cry daily over losing him and me not understanding the depth of grief that she was experiencing. I became a widow at 35 and I have often thought about her. I understand now, all too well.