“I have heard all these things before.
You men give me trouble, not comfort.
Your long speeches never end!
Why do you continue arguing?
I also could say the same things you say,
if you had my troubles.
I could say wise things against you
and shake my head at you.
But I would say things to encourage you
and give you hope.
“Nothing I say makes my pain go away.
But keeping quiet does not help either. Job 16:1-6
Weeks into our grief a friend asked me, “What kind of things do people say that aren’t helpful?” Well, I’ve been thinking on that for the past 4 months. I can say that I crossed paths with a lot of Job’s friends. But I was also touched by some remarkable and gifted comforters.
Some interactions were honestly cold. Some where well-meaning, but still hurtful. When someone loses a child don’t try to sell them Amway. Really. Don’t say you understand if you don’t. Don’t make unequal comparisons. Losing dogs and grandmas is not the same pain as holding a dead child in your arms. Don’t say you can’t imagine. Don’t say you wish you could take the pain. Don’t speak until God puts the words on your lips.
At first I thought the only people that could offer true hope were other moms who lost a child. But as I sit here and meditate on my many comforters I see that isn’t so. I was touched by many hands of love from all over. I want to introduce you today to some of the comforters that blessed me in my darkest hour. May you be blessed by them today as well.
My comforters weren’t afraid to weep with me, hold me or sit beside in silence. They girded themselves for the battle trenches and climbed in a deep hole with me. As they came and went, they picked up a piece of my burden to make their own.
My comforters offered few words and much heart.
One woman sat behind me during the visitation to cover me in prayer. She just touched me. Her eyes spoke sympathy. Her words to me were few, but her words to my Father were many.
By the end of the visitation night, hundreds of people came through. My arms hugged them all. My energy was drained. But there were a few memorable people who poured energy into me as they held my weary body and kissed my salty cheeks. There was a woman who knelt down to me. She got on the floor and folded me into her embrace. She gave me what she had to give- her strength.
I received a letter from a stranger in Florida who prayed all night because God put my name on her heart. Another woman sent me a locket with ALL of my babies birth stones in it. Another sent a necklace with Azaiah’s name and birthday inscribed.
Many of my brothers and sister offered themselves continuously for weeks. They managed my home, fed my children, washed my clothes and lifted the burden of every day life.
Just this morning one of my comforters posted this on Facebook:
“Sitting here this morning reflecting on the last several months of death that have surrounded so many people I know and love. As a person who is usually full of words, I can’t seem to find anything to say.”
As one of the people who has been surrounded by death, let me offer this encouragement today. No words are necessary. In fact sometimes it’s best. Offer your heart. Offer your time. Offer your sincerity. Offer your tears, your hands and most of all your most fervent prayers.
The words of our brother and apostle, Paul, speak a beautiful truth:
“Your faith makes you give your lives as a sacrifice in serving God. Maybe I will have to offer my own life with your sacrifice. But if that happens, I will be glad, and I will share my joy with all of you. “