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Why This is Your First Thought When a Loved One Dies

  • Carrie Dedrick What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • 2016 Apr 28

The last funeral I attended was for my husband’s grandfather in February. This was a man who knew Christ and sought to serve Him by taking care of his ailing wife until he became too sick himself. 

My husband received the call of his passing while we were both at work. I remember the moment that he walked over to my desk to deliver the news. But it didn’t strike me until reading Emily Freeman’s blog “What We Say When Someone Dies” what my first thought was when I heard of my grandfather-in-law’s death. 

My mind instantly went to the last time I saw this great man in person, not even two months previously in the hospital. Of course, I was experiencing a wave of different emotions at that time, so I did not linger long on that thought. Until now. 

Author Emily Freeman writes that our brains seek to deny the news of someone’s passing by justifying through our senses; the last time we saw that person, our eyes and ears told us that he was alive. 

She writes, “The first thing we try to piece together when someone dies is the last interaction we had with him, the last time we saw her face, the last words we exchanged. It seems the more recently you’ve seen a person alive, the more difficult it is to believe they are gone.” 

She continues, “And the first thing we often say is, but I just saw [him or] her.” 

Processing loss is one of the most difficult parts of grief. To those who are currently navigating this time, Freeman shares the following heartfelt advice: 

“The only thing I can offer is… the knowing of Christ even in the midst of the unknowing of anything else.”

“As you slowly begin to convince your senses of how things are now, may you discover a new way of seeing that perhaps you didn’t expect… May this inability to trust your senses lead to a new understanding of the kingdom of God – that seeing isn’t the only reality and love isn’t limited to earth.”

For those wanting to comfort the grieving, your love and care is appreciated. But be careful that you express your love in a constructive way. 

The article “7 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Person” explains why cliched platitudes such as “Let me know what I can do” or, “I know how you feel” don’t work. In case you were wondering, “Let me know what I can do” is too open-ended. A specific offer to bring a meal, buy groceries, clean bathrooms, or do laundry is much better. At the same time, “I know how you feel” is not really true because everyone processes grief differently. 

Katherine Britton’s article offers much more insight for those who wish to help their loved ones through the healing process. I highly recommend reading her article in its entirety if you know someone who is hurting right now. 

Britton writes, “There are no perfect responses to loss. But… above all? Never, ever be afraid to simply stand with the hurting and say, ‘I love you. You’re not alone.’ That’s always a good thing to say.”

Publication date: April 28, 2016