Letter to a Grieving Mother

November 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Posted in John, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Dear Ms. Smith:

My family and I were sorry to hear about your daughter. I wish I had known her better. My wife and I and our daughters have cried about Sally, and we have prayed for you. I don’t imagine there is anybody besides Jesus who can honestly say they know what you are going through right now. Over the years I have counseled with people whose children have passed away, and sometimes they try to describe their feelings, but it’s not really possible. When I was a small boy my dad would take me fishing and he would get so angry when I didn’t cast the lure properly, because the fishing line would snap back into the reel and cause a huge knot. Sometimes he could get the knot out – through clenched teeth and flared nostrils – and sometimes he gave up and threw the rod down in disgust: it was too tangled. My friends who have experienced the death of a young child sometimes feel sad, confused, angry at themselves, angry at others – even angry at God. Sometimes they feel loneliness, despair, hopelessness, aggravation, numb, or lost – sometimes all of these things at once. Like a big tangled knot of fishing line that can’t be sorted out. Please don’t think that I’m saying that’s what you’re feeling about the loss of your beautiful young daughter. I don’t have any way of knowing what you are going through. But I still want to tell you some things that I know to be true.

When a child is crying and can’t be consoled sometimes the child’s mother will hold the child’s face in her hands. Using her thumbs like miniature windshield wipers, she will wipe away the tears under the child’s eyes. She will look the child in the face and say, “Everything’s going to be okay.” And it helps – it really does. But, the thing is, there will be times after that when the child will cry again. I have no way of knowing if Sally was crying when she went to see Jesus. Maybe she was. But if so, the Bible tells what happened to her next: Jesus wiped away her tears. Jesus did not look like a stranger to Sally. He did not look mean or scary or intimidating or stern. He looked beautiful and comforting and loving to Sally, and He wiped away her tears in a way that made it so that she will never ever cry or be sad or lonely or scared or confused ever again. She knows things we have no clue about right now, and she wouldn’t leave where she is for the world. The words “happy” and “joyful” and “having fun” do not even begin to describe the sublime bliss and peace and excitement that Sally is experiencing for all eternity. She is in the best place in the whole universe, and she will be forever, and it will only get better and better.

When you try to comfort someone whose child has died you are not supposed to say stuff like this. You are supposed to shut your mouth and just be there for them and pray for them. The chances of making a grieving parent feel worse are high, and the chances of making her feel better are miniscule. I’m breaking that rule in writing to you, because I hope you already know the truth, but in case you don’t, I want you to know it. When Jesus told His disciples He was going to be arrested and put to death they were scared and confused. In those days when the government killed a criminal they tortured him publicly and killed him slowly over a period of days. The disciples were thinking, “If they’re going to do that to Jesus, they might do it to us, too.” So here’s what Jesus told them:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

Jesus was telling them it would be okay. Heaven is real. He really has gone there, and if we have believed the Gospel and placed our trust in Him, we are going to where He and Sally already are. Please make sure you have believed the Gospel and trusted in Jesus.



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  2. […] who are counseling and helping people grieving over the death of a loved one. It is very easy to say the wrong thing, and there is always a temptation just to let them take comfort in whatever seems to work, but […]

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