It’s God’s Will…????
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.
Leonardo da Vinci
Italian anatomist, botanist, scientist, mathematician, architect, engineer, inventor, painter, sculptor, musician and writer
I recently attended funeral services for the parent of a friend. I did not plan on staying long but I wanted the family, most of whom I do not know well, to know how sorry I was for their loss. I waited in line to greet the next of kin, as well as my friend, when I heard someone say a phrase that grates on my very being, like fingernails across a blackboard. “I know just how you feel but it was God’s will!” Now it’s not that I don’t believe with all my heart that God’s plan for all of mankind is not only pre-ordained but seldom revealed to us until the moment it is fulfilled , but I wonder why people seem to think that this phrase will lend comfort to people whom we are seeing at their most fragile and vulnerable state.
I know that people are generally uncomfortable when sharing a death experience despite the undeniable fact that death is probably the only absolute thing we can ever expect in our lives. Our sole purpose from the moment we first draw breath is to live until we die…whether that is seconds, minutes, hours, days or years. And while we certainly hope it is the latter, we are not privy to God’s will as to what his plan is for our lives and when we will be called home to be with him. And while we most certainly have lost loved ones ourselves, we do NOT have any idea how others are handling the grief of their loss.
Now the woman who said those words was an attractive and well spoken middle-aged woman who seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the moment those words passed her lips, the entire being of the family changed, as if some unseen wound had been somehow scratched open to hemorrhage. My heart ached for them and the pain they were obviously feeling anew. I wish I knew who this woman
was because there is much that should be shared to help her through what was probably the result of her being uncomfortable with the concept of death.
So here are some things many years of Hospice nursing and dealing with the grief of families who have suffered the death of a loved one have taught me, and are well worth remembering as you stumble your way through your condolences:
- Do not offer advice or ever attempt to liken someone elses grief to your own past experiences. Every person’s grief is unique and often the things that comforted you in your loss may not help another.
- Say, “I’m sorry for your loss”. It is often the simplest phrase that says the most!
- It’s OK to hold a hand of offer a hug. Just these physical acts let someone know you are concerned and care.
- It’s OK to remember a time you and the person who has died once shared and relate this to the family. Family members want to talk about the person who has died and sharing this type of
anecdote can often lighten the mood, if even for a moment.
- Ask what you can do to help and then follow through with your offer. Family members receive a great deal of support in the immediate hours and days following the death so plan a visit in a week or so. This is the time when loneliness can be most acutely felt.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 ESV
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