Saturday, April 10, 2010

a primer on loving those in fresh grief

A man I knew indirectly (though he was a friend of many close friends) died last night. He was my age, with two very young children and a young wife left behind. My heart aches for their family. As I read through some of the loving words posted in various places about him, I grew annoyed by our society's queasiness about death. We have so many euphemisms that do not actually speak truth: he went home, he is with Jesus, he passed away, etc. The widow will be spoken of as having "lost her husband," as though she misplaced him on her last grocery run. As if he were a set of keys.

The man died. The only thing that eases the feeling of loss and theft is knowing that he truly is in a better place. He suffered a great deal in his last months here on earth, and while his family is freed of watching him suffer, helpless, they now face the unenviable task of figuring out what life looks like when there is a raw gaping hole in it. In them.

Yes, he is dancing with Jesus. Yes, they will be reunited one day.

But now? Today? This first day that the sun cruelly rose without him here on the earth? His family misses him. There is a very real permanence to death, at least for those who still live. They never get to speak to him, never get to hear his voice, and not acknowledging the profundity of that pain does them a disservice as grieving Christians who believe in life and hope hereafter.

So to those friends who know E and love her and get to speak to her, be kind. Let her miss him. Do not say that he is in a better place. She knows, and that knowledge still doesn't remove the ache of the fact that the place is, for now, unreachable by her. Do not quote Romans 8:28 (and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose). Tell her stories of her beloved. Share pictures she may not have of him. Cry with her as she yearns to see him again, even in a dream. Empathize with the sheer loneliness of a future without him. Do not feel the need to say anything. There will be times she'll need to be surrounded by the busy-ness of life in order to be comforted by the normalcy. There will be times she'll feel like it will never be normal again. There may be many tears over the new "normal." And God will be there with her, every step of the way, mourning with her even if she does as I did, shaking her fist at Him and asking why He didn't change things.

E'en for the dead, I will not bind my soul to grief. Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall has blossomed on the other side?
Death does hide, but not divide.
You are but on Christ's other side!
You are with Christ, and Christ with me.
In Christ united still are we.


Molly said...

Thank you for these wise and true words.

Joyful Momma said...

Thank you for this.

Crystal Young said...

It's always hard to know what if anything to say to someone who is grieving. Thank you for your perspective.

Grammie Perrine said...

Darling Addie.. I remember the kindest words I received after my father's death.. AND I AM NOT COMPARING a death of a parent to a death of a spouse..but here are his words... "For me Art will forever be on the harbor duck-hunting with me." That is somethingt I never knew about my dad and it is something I will treasure forever.

Brian Dreiling said...

i LOVE this. thank you for speaking truth.

Cori said...

Addie, although we don't know one another I know lots of folks who know you. My sister is Noel Hoggatt Nail and she directed me here to your site. She specifically recommended I read this post. My husband Scott is related to T and E will be coming to visit soon. Scott's sister, Karen is actually good friends with Lane. point: thanks for this. So much. I have really enjoyed all the blog posts I've read. Thanks for the grace and thoughtfulness of this one though. Great suggestions!