We tend to go through life assuming things will continue pretty much as they are until something unexpected suddenly happens. Then we are abruptly forced to take a reality check and are reminded that the only thing certain about life is that it will not continue as it is.
We bumped into one of those roadblocks on Friday night when we got a call at 10:30 p.m. that a 23-year-old nephew had died in an accident. He was alone and for some unknown reason his car crossed the road, went airborne, flew over a meadow fence, and nosedived into a signpost. He died instantly.
The accident happened just a short distance from the spot where our 18-year-old son died in an accident sixteen years ago. As soon as we could, we went to be with Leroy's sister and her husband because we knew all too well what they are and will be facing in the months and years to come. There is nothing we can do to put things back together but we went again yesterday just to be with them. They know we understand the shock and grief they are experiencing. They apologized for being so insensitive when our son died. No problem. I knew they just didn't understand. I didn't either until I was in those shoes.
One of the questions they asked yesterday is if they will always feel the way they do now. I assured them that the grief will soften around the edges with the passing of time and it will not always be such a sharp pain. But the empty spot will always be there and there will always be times when something will trigger the ache. Grief is not something you "get over" but you do learn to live with it.
How can you comfort a grieving person? Just be there to weep with those who weep. Continue to remember them in prayers and expressions of sympathy and caring long after the funeral is over. The day of the month the death occurred will be a fresh reminder every month for a least the first year. That's a good time to send a note or do something. The person's birthday and holidays are also good days to let them know you are remembering with them. Share memories of their loved one. Memories are treasures when they are all you have left. Don't be afraid to mention the person. You won't be reminding them or stirring up their grief; they are thinking about it anyway and it is a comfort to know you are thinking about it too.
At a time like this, people say a lot of nice things and quote verses you already know. I'm not saying there is no value in that but the words don't mean as much unless you know they have gone through the same thing. The most comforting thing that was ever said to me came from God Himself. One morning when I was crying (again!) God very clearly said to me, "I know how you feel. My Son died too." When it seems everyone has gone on with their life and forgotten, we can always turn to Someone who understands. God has been there. His Son died too. He understands!