He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.—2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT
If loved ones emigrate across the globe, cutting off all contact, we expect to miss them, to yearn for news of their well-being, to ache with the loss. How much more when that person emigrates out of this world completely! Even for those with faith in an afterlife, this world has changed irrevocably, and that is difficult to bear.
If you have a friend or colleague who has suffered the loss of a loved one, perhaps he or she has temporarily retreated from daily life to take time to remember, to collect photographs, write memoirs, or set up some sort of memorial. Tears are no doubt part of the journey as well. It’s okay to cry. Even Jesus wept.1 All these have their place in the natural and healthy grieving process.
By the rivers … there we sat down. Yes, we wept, when we remembered … On the willows in its midst, we hung up our harps.—Psalm 137:1–2 WEB
There is a time for mourning.2 Let us hope that although their “harps”—the songs of faith and joy—are temporarily silent, they are not altogether discarded. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”3
So when does the mourner find the strength to face life once more, to reclaim the harp, to sing the song of faith and joy? There is no timetable. The closer the relationship, the greater the agony of loss. A sudden death can be particularly difficult to bear. Parental loss—burying your child—is widely acknowledged as one of the most traumatic of bereavements. It takes time to mourn a loss of this magnitude.
May God help us be gentle with those who are immersed in grief and show our solidarity with a word of comfort, a phone call, a homecooked meal. We can support others through their loss by expressing our good memories of their loved one, by acknowledging the anniversaries, birthdays, and special days that mean so much to them, by taking time to listen. Let’s be there for our friends, just as God is always here for us.4