Death teaches us how to live when we join someone in going through their grief. What I learned from a grieving friend can benefit all of us.
Welcome to today’s episode, no. 72, where today we consider what we can learn from a grieving friend.
In last week’s episode, number 71, How to Help a Grieving Friend, I talked about the shocking news Janet and I received from our missionary friend, Martin, concerning the sudden and unexpected death of his wife, and our friend, Suzanne. I talked about ways we can help a grieving friend, even as we ourselves grieve.
For today, I want us to reflect upon what we learn in walking together with a friend through his or her grief. There is much we can benefit from if we pay attention. For me, I find it starts with a rather haunting verse about death found in the Old Testament. A really unusual verse. Listen in as I explain.
In fact, this scripture passage will be our relationship quote of the week with which we normally end each episode. But today we’ll put it in the beginning. It speaks to our relationship with death, for it shows us how a Godly persective on death teaches us how to live.
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies – so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (NLT)
In reflecting upon my experience being with Martin as he grieves the loss of his wife, I learned 4 things I want to share that shows ways how death teaches us how to live.
Four things I learned from my grieving friend
1. Being with a grieving friend is like being on a missions trip.
- Visiting another culture is often jarring to us because it is so unfamiliar.
Death is unfamiliar territory to most of us. We don’t encounter it every day.
- We don’t know the language…. “I have no words.” Mel Lawrenz’s book, A Chronicle of Grief, talks about this phrase.
- Feel unskilled. On a missions trip, we were “experts” in navigating the culture we came from, in this new culture, this culture of grief, we are novices, especially in the area of relationships.
- Returning on missions trip is harder than going in the first place. So it is when we face the aftermath of death. After the funeral and when others have moved on with their life, but we haven’t.
2. Grief exposes our inadequacies
- Death is a problem we cannot fix
- Listening is more important than talking, but we feel so inadequate in doing so
- A friend from church who said, “She’s in a better place.” YIKES!
- Our presence is more important than our words
- It’s harder for those left behind than for those going on ahead
- People grieving may need our relationship with them more later than right away
3. God uses different people in different ways to care for a grieving person
- Meal train set up
- Friends Krista and Bob taking Serena in for 3-4 days of the week
- A friend who set up a “GoFundMe” campaign, then wrote a personal check for the funeral home
- Grief support group. The quote Martin found helpful, “Grief, stewarded well, invites hope.”
4. How we have lived will impact people after we die
- Organ donation
- Her character and the impact she left on people
- The tributes written on her memorial page
- In Suzanne’s death we see a picture of the character of God in how she lived
- That smile of Suzanne’s
- How Suzanne used her death teaches us how to live.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode. Our show in a sentence:
Joining a friend in their grief teaches us valuable lessons about life.
Here’s what you can do in response to today’s show:
As Ecclesiastes 7:4 advises, be a wise person and “think a lot about death.” For when we do, death teaches us how to live. Think about what we value, knowing someday we will die. Think about what we want people to remember about us, knowing someday we will die. Think about how we should live now, knowing someday we will die. And think about our relationship with God, and his Son Jesus, knowing someday we will die.
And then ask God to show us what we need to change in our life before it’s too late.
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to reflect upon your own mortality. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships before it’s too late. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Now our relationship quote of the week
“Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies – so the living should take this to heart. 3Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. 4A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.” ~ Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (NLT)
Two last things
Here's the link to the memorial page for Susanne. Click here to read the beautiful tributes to Suzanne.
Also, as I mentioned in last week's episode, this podcast and our blog posts are sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry? We depend upon the generosity of donors to pay our bills. If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.