I have friends I love who suffered a great loss this week, so this is for them, but since losing a family member is something we all hold in common at some point in our lives, it’s for all of us. We’re in this together. Everyone handles loss differently, but these are the things I wish someone had told me:
While there is a part of you that rejoices—he is in the best possible place and so it’s well with your soul—it will take some time for your heart to grab hold of that truth and find it comforting—that’s okay. It’s also okay to bounce between confusion, sadness, anger; to cry your eyes out for days; to feel numb and then miss him so much you feel like you’ve been turned inside out. This isn’t about you putting on a brave face (even if you could) or showing how strong your faith is. You are grieving a great trauma and loss, and the people who love you understand that.
At the same time, if you find yourself smiling, that’s okay, too. It might feel wrong at first. You might ask yourself, “How could I…?” laugh at a joke, enjoy your children, suddenly find your taste buds again and dive into the casserole someone just dropped off. You can, because God has given us the ability to live through loss in a transformational way. The first time you lose someone this close, it feels like your heart couldn’t possibly recover, and in a way that’s true. You won’t ever be the same. From here on out, you go on with a new heart. One that’s cracked and scarred but, eventually and paradoxically, better able to love for it. When good moments come (and they will), let yourself enjoy life and love the people around you, without guilt. It’s what you were created to do, and it would make him so happy.
Surround yourself with whatever and whoever encourages you, feel whatever you are feeling, deeply and fully, trust the people who love you to roll with it, and shrug off everyone who doesn’t. That’s your emotions—your mind is a little bit different…
Now is one of the times when those whispers that sound like they are coming from you, but aren’t, can be very loud. Most specifically, the one that says, “If God really loved you, if He was pleased with you, He wouldn’t make you go through this. You must have done something wrong.” Reject that voice trying to tear you down and cling to the One who does really love you enough to die for you, Who is walking with you each step of the way, even when you can’t feel it. You are God’s children, and so He has said nothing, nothing, can steal you from him. Not weariness or fear for the future, not an inability to make sense of this, not sadness. Nothing. You’re His, you’re loved no matter what, and nothing you feel or do is a surprise to Him.
Finally, remember that the best thing about days like this is that not every day will be like this. There will be good days and there will great days again. Through them all, the bad, the good, the great, God never changes—that’s why He’s our greatest comfort and our deliverer. He’s with you still, as am I.