Losing Loved Ones

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When you have a toothache it is very difficult to say to yourself, “Well, at least I have teeth.” You are just in too much pain. Similarly when you lose a loved one, someone saying to you, “Well you had him as a husband for over 50 years” does not remove the pain or heartache and seems less than compassionate.

Platitudes are personally insulting, and unless you’ve been there you can’t say, “I understand” or “time will heal” or “he’s in a better place.” You don’t understand and time will not heal—at least not for many of us. You may not grieve as you once did, but you will mourn your lost love the rest of your life, and you will still be saying to yourself, “His best place was beside me.”

Maybe the better thing to say to the widow, with honesty, is that you are sorry and that you will always remember your loved one with affection or “you will be in my daily prayers.”

I wish I had known these things years ago. You are taught so many things as life goes on—schooling, business, marriage, but seldom does the etiquette regarding death ever surface.

And I guess there is no right way to deal with it. As a widow my heart has ached for anyone in a similar situation. For some I can reach out and give a hug, share a tear or just listen to the heartbreak … for others there is a wall that is impossible to pass through. A very polite wall but one you see right away; it has no door for intruders to walk through.

Even your Christian friends react differently to the death of a spouse. You’re wise if you can read them early and save yourself from being hurt. Compassion unaccepted is not an easy thing to swallow. And some just need time—sometimes years to reach a final acceptance of the pain that resulted from the loss. Some are so busy filling in the empty spaces with things to do, they almost push you out of the picture. However, my suggestion for you is to just be there, for a day may come when they will need a hug so desperately. I spoke to one widow who didn’t come to grips with the finality of her loss until three years had passed.

If you are sitting on the side of those doing the counselling, do so with gentle sincerity, with genuine concern and without platitudes. Please.

And if you find yourself not knowing how to react to the loss of your loved one, don’t be worried— there are no rules regarding these things. Live it one day at a time, knowing with your whole heart that God knows exactly what pain you are in and God is carrying you and will only set you down when you have the strength again to stand on your own two feet.

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About Patricia Schneider

Patricia Schneider is a proud mother and grandmother living in Alberta. Her articles are posted each Monday and Thursday. You can continue to follow her after December 1, 2016 on her new blog, Reflections by Pat (http://reflectionsbypat.wordpress.com).