You know, the things I mentioned in the last blog were just a few of the many comments that I’ve heard in recent months. And I know absolutely that none of these things have been said with any malice at all. In fact, I’ve said all these things hundreds of times myself in similar circumstances and have been genuinely concerned when I spoke these words. But the interesting thing is, I don’t think we know what to say when someone dies.
We know what to say for a birthday or an anniversary. We know what to say when a baby is born or someone graduates. But why don’t we know what to say when someone dies?
I think the reason is because dying isn’t natural. (Of course this is contrary to another statement that someone told me, “Dying is a natural part of living.”) I think dying is unnatural for us. When God made man (back in Genesis 1 and 2) He made him in God’s image. Scripture says He breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living being. God Himself is eternal and when He breathed his spirit into us I believe He created us as eternal beings. I believe He has always intended for us to live eternally. Remember, the only reason we die is because mankind chose to sin (Romans 6:23 – the wages of sin is death.) Death was not a part of God’s plan for us, but the consequences of our fall. And as such, it doesn’t feel natural or come easily to us.
Suddenly we’re separated from those we love. It feels like they’re gone. Yet deep inside our God-breathed spirit, we know that we are eternal creatures. So how can we reconcile these two things? I don’t think we reconcile them by one comment or even one conversation. I think we gradually learn to bring our memories of what was together with what we know by faith will be. It doesn’t happen immediately. I think it’s a process. And I’m processing.
So, what should you say? It’s OK to say “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I’m praying for you” (but only if you really are). And please be patient with me when I sometimes receive things differently from the way you intended. My “receivers” are very sensitive.
What would I like you to say? It’s easy really. I want to know that you love me and that you’re glad to see me. I want to know that you still want me around, even though I’m now “flying solo” (thanks Connie!). I want to know that you miss him too and I want to know the things you remember about him. I think a lot of people don’t really know what to do with me now. They don’t want to mention Michael because it will make me cry. Please understand that I’d rather cry because you still mention him than to cry because I think you’ve forgotten him. (And it doesn’t really matter what you say, I’m probably going to cry either way.)
PS — When I wrote the last blog entry I didn’t know what response to expect from people. It’s been wonderfully flattering to know so many people have read that post and I’ve loved all the responses (well, to be honest, I’ve loved almost all the responses). Some of my friends (you know who you are) are now afraid what they say to me will be the subject of the next blog. HAHAHA !! Oh, the power of the pen (or the keyboard, in this case). Thanks for reading along!