Two weeks ago, I flew to North Carolina to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s father who had passed away unexpectedly. Having known her family for nearly 25 years, I felt their loss as my own. Her father was a deeply committed Christian and loved his wife, three daughters, and grandchildren beyond measure.
For all of our theological understanding, faith, and belief, there is still something quite mysterious and unsettling about death—the great mystery of all mysteries. “Where is my loved one now?” we might ask. “What is really on the other side?” “What is that like?” “Do the dead have physical bodies and if so, what sort of body is it?”
Perhaps most daunting of all is the startling reality of how we will have to proceed with our own lives without that person(s). Thousands of people are asking these or similar questions every day.
When someone dies, we often don’t know what to say or how to respond. Words seem inadequate. Over the years, I have discovered that one of the best responses is to simply show up and be present. We need time to grieve well, to sit with our pain and loss. We need patience, love, and understanding as each person grieves differently.
Another dear friend once confided her struggles the morning after her father died. How it was that the sun dared to rise. How could the sun shine when her world had turned so dark?
And yet death is the most natural of things; the common denominator. The road we are on. The one thing that binds all the living together.
I just wanted to hold my friend’s hand, to look into her face, and remind her that she is not alone.
Grace and peace,