A family has lost a father.
A wife has lost a husband.
A church has lost a leader.
A friend has lost a confidant.
A world has lost a beautiful soul.
Yesterday, a dear church family, close to our heart, lost their Pastor to an unexpected heart attack.
When we heard the news, our hearts were shattered with the church family.
My dear friend, who is a member of the church, and more so, a close friend of the family, has shared her heart with me and I realized that I could be of no help whatsoever.
What do you say to those in times of great despair and tragedy? Is there really any words you can utter that will ease the pain?
The long and the short answer is, no, not really.
My friend kept repeating over and over that it wasn’t about her, this loss was about the family, the wife, the kids, and the church.
But I told her, this loss IS about her too.
Every loss we come in contact with impacts us in some way. Every loss links us to our own past losses, no matter how related they are. Every loss brings on emotions of helplessness and pain that frankly, are so unpleasant, and hard to bear.
We know of this loss too.
Today I realized that those around us in our darkest days must have felt so incredibly useless. They must have not known what to do, what to say, how to act. Because today, that is how I feel for this sweet family.
But having been in their shoes, not exactly of course, but similarly, I can say that I know what others can do for them.
They can send a word.
No, it is very probable that in the next few days, weeks, and months, this wife and her children will not remember all the notes, texts, and calls that will be received. It will be a blur and impossible to etch out a clear picture in their mind about who said what, where and when. But I assure you, those words still matter. Like a warm heavy blanket as you sleep, kind words whispered during turmoil not only bring comfort, but bring necessity. Necessity to not go to a dark place. Necessity to feel loved and not alone. Necessity to survive the very beginning of this new journey that is rocky, hard, and deep.
They can share a memory.
Though it may seem like bringing up their name would be painful and almost cruel, I assure you this, it is not. Those that have just lost need to feel a sense of that person still living on in others. They want to hear their name, focus on their personality, and who they are, and of course, know that they were loved by others.
They can put their own wants aside for sake of the family.
Sometimes, when people are grieving, they have a hard time seeing outside of their own box. It takes over their hearts and minds so much that they perhaps, act in ways that are not the kindest, odd, or even comes off cold. Many loved this man so dearly, and though they have their own emotions to deal with, it is always best to put that aside and care for the immediate family. This may mean giving them space. Or perhaps sitting with them for hours, if that is what they want. We struggled some with this when we were at the height of grieving because though everyone grieves differently, we had those that were in our close circle act hurtful towards us and be insensitive. They didn’t mean to be, and we see that now, but at the time, it hurt. But we showed grace. We didn’t let it ruin us or our relationship with that person.
They can pray.
I have no doubt that this is the greatest necessity and the greatest gift you can give to those that are hurting and at a loss. I am also sure that this family that has been shaken, is surrounded by an army that fights for them minute by minute with intercessory prayers to the Great Comforter. We underestimate it. We don’t believe because it seems all so painful and hard. But didn’t God ask the question, Is anything too hard for me?
Nothing is too great, too deep, too dark, and too devastating that God cannot pull you out, lift you up, and heal you from it.
My mind and heart return to those days where we were so fresh into grief. The confusion, the haziness, the ache, the constant wet cheeks. And to be honest, I hate to go back to that feeling and place. But when others hurt the way you once have, it is nearly impossible to not go down to that pit with them and cry, scream, and question.
To my family at Walker, my heart is with you as you wade through this trial, loss, and confusion. You were always so faithful for praying for our family, and so, we lift up yours now.
To Jen and her sweet babies, there are no words to speak. But if I could open the chest of my soul and reveal to you my heart, you would see that it hurts along with you. It is crushed, bruised, and broken. But if you look closer, you will see there is a light that reveals hope. A hope that one day you will be able to breath again. One day you will be able to say his name without sobbing. One day you will be able to smile on those thoughts and memories of an incredible man. One day, you will see his face again and never have to let go.
Until that day, Jen, we pray.
To those who do not know whom I speak of, we ask that you pray with us for the Huber family, Walker Bible Baptist Church, and all those that loved Phil as a friend, family member, and Pastor.