August 29, 2017 changed our family forever. Matthew, my brother-in-law, left the body and went home to be with the Lord unexpectedly. In the two years following his death our family has walked a long road of loss.
Although painful beyond words there are a few ways our church body, neighbors, friends, and family have walked alongside us to help carry this heavy burden.
After our sudden loss we were graciously given time to just be. My husband and I were able to spend a week at my in-laws’ house where it was okay to not be okay, to talk or not talk, and we didn’t feel obligated to paste a smile on and continue on with day-to-day moments. These are still some of the sweetest gifts from the Lord, as we reflect back on those extremely hard days. Not being alone and not being expected to just carry on brought comfort beyond measure to our weary souls.
2. The presence of friends and family.
Many friends and family showed up simply to be by our side with a hug or to sit in the silence with us. With the amount of shock that this kind of loss brings, we found comfort in loved ones not trying to find words to say but being okay with the silence. Having been on the other side of loss, I know from experience this isn’t easy, but the willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of love and support was invaluable.
3. Sharing memories of the loved one.
To this day this continues to be one of the most comforting things along this journey. In times of loss just saying the loved one’s name and sharing memories of them brings such a comfort that can barely be described. Along those same lines, remembering important dates in the loved one’s life is so comforting to family and friends. Though the first year is painful in all sorts of ways with many firsts experienced without an intricate part of our lives, the cards sent on the anniversary of his death and those that remember his birthday year after year make us feel so seen and loved.
4. Intentionally loving one another.
The days that followed Matthew’s death were full of numbness and daze. Still, we can recall many times that neighbors would show up with food without asking, friends would knock on our door with coffee to sit with us, pastors came to pray with us, neighbors mowed our lawn, etc. This alleviated many of the burdens of “normal life” and gave needed space to process our loss. If the Lord prompts you to do something when walking alongside a loved one through loss, act without waiting for the grieving to ask. Though they may never ask, these ordinary actions speak volumes of your love for them.
5. Bibles donated in memory
Many Bibles were donated in memory of Matthew to Gideons International. Our family was encouraged that such a painful loss might be used to the glory of God and spreading His Word.
6. Prayers and Scripture
Words are hard to come by in seasons of loss, especially the “right” words. Yet, reminding those experiencing loss that you are lifting them to the Father who knows their pain more personally than anyone else can be so comforting. When the words can’t be found, offering the faithful Father’s holy words brings balm to a weary soul in a way human words never could. I remember one particular morning after the loss of Matthew, I was searching the Scriptures for comfort in the promises of God. The Lord brought Revelation 21:4 to mind “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.”
Later that day a friend texted me the same verse. I found a comfort in God’s Word that nothing else could provide for me. Through prayers and sharing of Scripture from friends and family, we truly experienced the closeness of the Lord in the midst of great loss. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”
7. Be gentle.
Finally, loss takes time. I may have experienced the loss of my brother-in-law two years ago but, there are times when the grief feels as fresh and difficult as the days immediately following his passing. Knowing it will take time and not expecting one to heal in a set amount of time frees those experiencing loss to grieve well, however long it might take.
No type of loss is easy to experience. Whether you’re walking alongside someone or experiencing it first hand, look to Christ to lead your steps and bring hope on the most hopeless of days. By His grace, you will come through loss looking more like Him. “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one we hope you find comfort through the Word of God. We hope the scripture cards below are just what you’re looking for Click on any of the images below for a printable PDF.
Kaitlin Redmond serves as a graphic designer on the Lifeway Women team. She’s a native of Nashville, TN, and considers herself a homebody. She and her husband Chris get to be parents to their sweet baby boy, Jack. She loves spending time in the Word with women, exercising, and going on picnics in the backyard with her family. The Lord has given her a rich community of women who have inspired a love for God’s Word and a desire to know Him deeper. You can follow her on Instagram @kaitlin_redmond.