this is dark…

Death is horrific.

It is purposeless and devoid of meaning. Death is violent and visceral. It’s abusive and unyielding.

We strive to bring meaning to it. We hope and pray for purpose in the darkness, but there is none. And that’s terrifying.

We say it’s all a part of Gods plan, but it’s not.

It was never the plan.

The loss that comes with it is crushing. If it hasn’t yet, death will fundamental change the way you see the world. The world is never the same.

The relationships is lost, and with it part of you is lost. It can’t be redeemed, it’s never coming back.

And how do we feel?

Sadness? Nothingness? Profound pain? Less than whole?

We call this grief.

Greif is the response to the loss of that which we love. When we love and that love is ripped from us, torn away in such a permanent manner that it cannot be reconciled we grieve. It’s what our love pushes us to do.

From time to time I volunteer with grief support groups.

I can’t tell you often I’ve heard people struggling through their loss say “I wish it was me.” How many people would give anything to bring the wholeness back into their lives. Who plead for anything the fix it, willing to give up everything, knowing in the depths of their soul there is nothing to do.

Death is darkness in a way nothing else can be. It’s to permanent. It’s to one sided. There is no going back and there is no way to process or reconcile once it’s happened.

What’s done is done and it can never be undone. That relationships can never be anything more or less than it was. Old wounds can’t be address and past trauma can’t be reconciled. They will remain open and unfinished.

This is the power of death. What death takes with it, we can never get back.

I told you this was dark.

But it’s love that longs for an answer. It’s love that desires renewal and change. It’s love that demands we try to find meaning.

But we’re powerless. This darkness has no meaning and it’s everywhere we turn. We are left with the simple reality that we must accept that we can do nothing more. That horrific, pointless pain has come and we cannot change it.

But what if we weren’t?

What if we could redeem it? What if we could reconcile all that was lost?

Wouldn’t you, even if it cost you dearly?

It’s the deep and unwavering love God has for us that caused Him to reconcile the death now a part of all of us. It was the crushing grief over the loss of relationship with us, the undeniable change in how we now interacted with Him that drove Jesus to do something.

Hate had nothing to do with it. Sin so greatly grieved the heart of God that His love motivated Him to do whatever it took to make redemption possible.

We so desperately miss the point when we make it about sin. It wasn’t about abolishing sin but about redeeming all that was lost. It was about a love so deep and a God who could do something we can’t.

Who could bring life to the dead and redeem the unredeemable. Who loved all of us, the dead parts as much as the rest.

It was grief motivated by love.

How did we ever let hate into the equation?

depth, darkness and all

This is going to be short.

More often than not I’ll recommend just listening but when you do speak consider these few thoughts on what to say. You can also check out this, this and this for some more ideas on supporting people in crisis.

Offer honest and real support. Don’t just say let me know If you need anything but tell them what you can and want to do. Say “I want to love you, here’s what I came up with. I want to do this with you.” Make it easy for them to be supported and loved.

Give them space to feel their feelings. People often don’t feel free to honestly explore and express how they actually feel. They think there is a way they are supposed to feel or a response they are supposed to have. Let them know that you’re ok with them being honest. Say “it’s ok to be honest with me. If you feel angry, hurt, flat, numb, happy, whatever. You don’t have to feel a certain way. If you want to talk about how you feel I’d love to listen. I just want to love you.” Let them feel what they feel and don’t try to direct it. Some people feel numb. They don’t really feel at all. They are told they are supposed to be sad but they just feel nothing. And then they feel guilt that they aren’t responding ‘the right way.’ Give space for the real expression of their feelings whatever they may be. Don’t look for one feeling or another but accept whatever it is they express.

Just keep affirming that you want to love them and be there with them.

The only advice I’d share with someone experiencing grief is “be gracious with yourself. Grief is a long tiring process. There is no time table.” Help them feel free to experience the process and not be too hard on themselves.

Love them. No expectations, just a journey you’re happy to go on with them, depth, darkness and all.