Words for a Time of Loss

I want to write this while the wounds are still fresh. It has been less than a week since I lost my dad. I have just experienced my first time of family visitation and the funeral of a close relative. I want to share a few thoughts on my experience that may be helpful for you. Today I want to give you a few words that I found useful and a few I did not.

1. Your Presence is Enough, Don’t Feel the Pressure to Say Something Meaningful.
When Mom and I sat down after everything was over, we began to talk about who came and who was surprisingly absent. If I know you, then few words are required. If I don’t know you then tell me your relationship with him and why you felt you should come. That is enough, honestly.

2. Tell Me Personal Stories About My Dad.
When people told me about dad speeding in his car to work, talking himself out of tickets and other various stories, I learned a little more about this man I loved. Funny, entertaining, and personal stories that I might not know are a real blessing.

3. Remind Me of the Promises of God.
Dad was a believer, and I am confident about this eternity. Remind me of what the Bible says about heaven. Mention the removal of pain and a life without mourning, crying or pain.

4. Sharing Your Pain With Me is Okay.
A few people told me of their loss of their father and even their spouse. They said how hard it was for them, but God got them through it by his grace and mercy. Those stories helped me to connect with people and see a small light at the end of this journey.

5. Resist the Urge to Make Eternal Guesses.

Saying things like, “He is up there fishing right now” are not really helpful. Telling me about him talking to your deceased relative are not encouraging either. Telling me about a dream you had or some eternal vision are kind of weird. I know you mean well, but it is not really helpful, in fact, some of it was upsetting – at least for me.

Over the last several days I have heard everything. The words ranged from a comfort that only I know to words that upset me. I hope that this little reflection will be helpful the next time you attend a family visitation or funeral. This is an excellent time to minister to people, but we must be thoughtful in everything we say.

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