How do you help a friend or family member who is grieving the loss of a loved one? Suddenly on Thursday, Fran and her mom rushed to a hospital because Fran’s dad experienced a stroke while at work. After about six hours in the emergency room, where everything was done to save him, they were faced with the unbelievable news that he had died.
It’s the next day and Fran has so much to do to make plans for her dad’s memorial service; to explain to her young children what has happened to their much-loved grandpa; to be there for her mom who is hurting beyond belief after losing her husband of 47-years; and somehow in the midst of all that, to deal with her own grief. If you’ve ever been in such a situation, you know that you exist on adrenalin at first, just going through the motions and doing what you have to do.
Much food is brought to her mom’s house, but of course, they have little appetite. Friends and family stream in and out throughout the day, offering sympathy and comfort. One lady from her mom’s church seems to think it’s her job to “preach a sermon” to her mom. She boldly tells her mom not to cry, not to worry, because her husband is in a better place and all things work together for good to those who love God. Of course, that brings no comfort at all, but actually makes Fran angry and upsets her mom even more, so Fran tries to find a nice way of ushering her out of the house.
Then a long-time friend of her mom’s comes in, looks at her and says, “Oh, Liz, I’m so very sorry. This is so wrong, so wrong….” and the two of them hold onto each other for a long time, crying and sobbing. No more words are said; the feelings are too deep and the despair is too great. But weeping and sobbing with her mom is of great comfort to her.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2 that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” There are no words any of us can say to ease the grief of such a great loss, but by weeping with those who are weeping, we carry part of their burden with them, and that makes it a little bit easier for them.
There have been a lot of deaths in and around me during the last few months, and I’ve been reminded again that death is the enemy, and we cannot escape the sorrow that life on this planet will inevitably bring. But we can be instruments of God’s love and peace by simply weeping with those who are sorrowful, sharing their grief and pain as much as we can, and thus fulfilling the law of Christ.