Shortly after Lyndsie went home to Heaven, I found myself becoming very aware of the words being spoken to me and around me. I realized that even though death has impacted all of us at some point, most of us still struggle with what to say when we are around a grieving person or family. Sometimes, we just say dumb things that make the situation even worse. For example, I remember going with Lyndsie to a funeral years ago for a close family friend of ours. Shortly before the service, Lyndsie and I were talking to the immediate family and trying to just be an encouragement to them. All was going well until one of the sons asked me how work was going and I responded by saying something like, “oh it’s been really dead around the office lately”. To answer your question, yes, it was even more awkward in person! I remember the polite smiles on their faces going away and me quickly trying to apologize for my poorly timed words as Lyndsie began walking away still holding my hand - no doubt trying to rescue me from saying anything else ridiculous. I knew that my careless words hadn’t helped the family or encouraged them in any way and I told myself that day I would never be that person again.
As I have found myself unwillingly becoming a member of the grieving community, I noticed that I have felt called to speak up for them and protect their grieving hearts from unnecessary words that are hurtful and bring up painful moments instead of encourage and comfort. I guess that’s the protective side coming out in me. I don’t want to bash or attack anyone in this post but I want to help bridge the gap between those who use trendy or common phrases without considering the impact of their words and those who are dealing with the pain of losing someone close to them. So if you have found yourself saying any of the following things, please don’t be upset or think I’m coming at you…I want to say all of this in love and hopefully help both sides.
The first type of words I heard early on in my grief that made me feel almost sick to my stomach were trendy, dramatic responses like, “I’m dying” or “I’m dead”. The people saying those things were just trying to say that something was funny or that they were embarrassed, but for me, it put a casual and non-impactful spin on something that had devastated my life and it brought all kinds of traumatic moments to the surface. I have become tougher and more prepared to hear those kind of things over time, but I still don’t like hearing them and I would encourage those who use words like that to find another way of expressing yourself.
The second type of words that bothered me were the ones with theological undertones or assurances about things that we both knew were out of their control, like “everything happens for a reason”, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” or “everything is going to be ok”. Although I have personally experienced the presence and comfort of God more in the hardest moments and know that He is sovereign in all things - trust me, you don’t feel like hearing those things when you have just lost someone you love and nothing makes sense. My advice to those of you who have said something like that or may say that in the future is this...
If someone is hurting, don't tell them it's going to be ok. Instead, stay with them until they can say it.
The third type of words that bothered me were actually a declaration that I had said with confidence many times over the years…“the best is yet to come”. It always sounded like a great way of declaring that God is for us and not against us and that His plans are always better than ours. And because it’s so popular, it was only a matter of time before I heard it as I was grieving. And you guessed it, I was instantly frustrated. I thought to myself, that may be true for people who are still looking for love or waiting to have children and the family of their dreams, but I already had my best in Lyndsie and our little family. We were headed for great things and my future without her by my side sure didn’t seem like the best at all. In fact, I was offended by that idea because I felt like if I said it, it would be the same thing as saying I didn’t think Lyndsie was God’s best. I honestly struggled with how to believe something I once knew to be true.
Then it hit me. I realized that I could once again declare, “the best is yet to come” with confidence and without feeling like I was insulting the love of my life. The key for me was found in one simple truth...
As Christians, we don’t have to look OUT at our future, we can look UP at our future.
We have the unique assurance that no matter how many highs and lows we experience in this life, our future will ultimately be with Jesus in Heaven! It's a place where we will be reunited with the ones we love - a place with no more broken hearts, no more separation, no more cancer, no more disease, no more fear and no more goodbyes. But get this…everything I just mentioned will pale in comparison to being in the presence of our Heavenly Father! What a mind blowing thought.
Don't get me wrong, I would absolutely love to experience more of the things that make life beautiful and accomplish incredible things while I’m here. I want to be happy just like anyone else. But I want you to know that even if there is more heartbreak and pain ahead for me on this earth, I will still say with confidence and anticipation that yes, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
My prayer for you is that you can say the same thing. So with all the love in my heart, I want tell you that if you don’t know were you will go when you die, please feel free to reach out to me or someone in your life who is a Christian and either one of us would be more than happy to walk you through what it means to be saved.