Mourning with Hope1
Once again we get the opportunity to mourn with one of our loved ones. Sharing these moments is a precious honour. Your friend is asking you to walk with him in an intimate time he will remember for the rest of his life. We should treat mourning as a sacred duty.
Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to mourn well. We have moved away from our home towns, and have missed the funerals of family friends where we should have been learning some important habits.
Below are some of my suggestions on how to mourn.
- Practice the ministry of presence. Just be there as much as possible. I had friends drive over a hundred miles to spend just 15 minutes with me the night of my brother's visitation. Words will never express the healing and joy I felt seeing them walk in the door.
- Encourage the natural. Jesus wept at the funeral of his friend, and we should encourage others to do the same. Weeping is natural and important. Don't try to offer quick words that will make someone "feel better." Feeling better is not the point, healing is the point. Healing comes through sowing our tears, that joy will one day grow again (Psalm 126:6). I encourage people to cry as hard as they can and as often as they need to.
- Embrace the awkward. You so badly want to say something that will make everything better. But nothing you can say will heal a death. So just embrace the quiet. Say I love you and I will pray for you. The fact that you are there to say anything, means a lot. Anything you say more than that will probably be regretful. Sharing stories can be awesome. Saying things like, "She wouldn't want you to be sad" only adds guilt on top of sadness.
- Watch for the extraordinary. During funerals the Holy Spirit feels near, people are raw and sometimes enter a state of emotional vulnerabiltity that can be unforgettable. Some of the greatest conversations I've ever had have come during these times of mourning. If you are present, patient, and lucky you might experience one of those too.
Mourning together is one of the most important things we do together as a church. Thank you for being willing to walk this sacred path with us.
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