Contributed by Faith Jackson
A friend of mine recently lost her mother. It made me realize all over again how much I miss my own mother. She passed away 28 years ago when I had just turned 26 years old and I still miss her every single day. She never met my husband or held any of my three children. Every Mother’s Day, I wish I could do something for her like I used to do. On the first day of spring, I miss sending her a floral arrangement, which had been my way of welcoming the season with her.
I learned so much from my mom, not just from her life, but also from her death. I learned how to let go and what it means to grieve deeply. Unfortunately, I also learned that my brothers and sisters in Christ could seem unsympathetic or uncaring. Even though Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn,” I experienced just the opposite during some of the most difficult days of my young life.
When I wanted someone to cry with me, I often got the steely words, “Oh, she’s in a better place,” thrown at me instead. Instead of tears acknowledging my suffering, I heard words intended to help me acknowledge the theological truth of the situation: “God allowed her to die.” I knew that, but I didn’t necessarily need to hear that at that time. “This isn’t a funeral; it’s a celebration of her life.” Yes, I Thessalonians 4:13 is true, “we do not want you to grieve like those who have no hope.” But, at the same time, I did need to grieve.
In our efforts to be godly and theologically accurate, I’ve found it’s just as important to be sensitive and to cry with those who need to cry. And sometimes it’s better just to sit with someone than to say anything at all. There are no words that can really help a young woman get past a loss as big as that of her mother, a young couple through a miscarriage, or any number of losses that people go through. Sometimes, people who are mourning often just need us to be there—to be still—and to weep tears with them.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV