Helping the Grieving

     Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.’  Let’s focus on the end of this passage.  How do we “mourn with those who mourn”?  On June 17 my amazing father passed away.  I was and still am mourning.  How could someone help me and my sister?  How could someone help my mom who lost her beloved partner of almost 56 years?
     My first encouragement would be to pray.  Invite the all-powerful, all-knowing God of comfort into the situation.  You can not be there in the middle of the night when a widow wakes up and out of habit reaches for her husband who is no longer there; but God can be.  He sees and can comfort in those private, intimate moments.  He can arrange sweet, even comical coincidences.  My mother was shocked that at the mausoleum she saw that a man she and dad had enjoyed getting to know at their senior’s facility had his mausoleum space reserved right above theirs.  Indianapolis is a large city and their care facility is an hour away from the mausoleum, what are the odds?  Mom actually laughed out loud at discovering her care facility neighbor was a mausoleum buddy!
      Second, offer practical aid.  My sister’s church brought us meals for a week.  I am sure that we would have found a way to eat but to have dinner covered nightly was a beautiful blessing made possible by thoughtful people.  Individuals from my parent’s church offered to help with the substantial expenses of flying my large family down to Indy for the celebration of life service in August.  Individuals at my church stepped in to cover things so that I could go visit my family.  Offering practical aid in various ways makes a huge difference to those who are grieving. 
      Third, express appreciation.  So many people shared stories of how my father had made an impact on their lives.  I knew some of the stories already, but many I was hearing for the first time.  Just as when we throw a rock into a smooth pond there are ripples that move outward; every life makes an impact.  The willingness of people to share stories about my father to our family allowed us to get a glimpse of his ripples of influence.  I know writing notes and sending cards is a bit old school, but some of those we received will be held and cherished.  One widow shared in a card about how my dad had written down when her husband died and for years would reach out on that painful anniversary and offer comfort and prayer.  Others shared how they will miss his laugh.  I will too; it’s encouraging to hear others noticed it. 
       Fourth, remind us about our confident Christian hope.  Christians believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We believe that death is a defeated enemy.  We look forward to the new heavens and new earth, a place of resurrection, restoration, reward and reunion for Christians.  For the follower of Jesus, death is like a small child failing asleep in the car and his father carrying him to his bed in his home.  My father quietly fell asleep here, but he has awakened in the joy-filled presence of his Heavenly Father.
     Grieving people are all around you, notice them and love them well. 

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church