Sometimes I’m convinced that our American funeral rituals are counterproductive. That is, they do the exact opposite of what we intend for them to do. Instead of offering comfort to hurting people, they end up exasperating them, wearing them out, and forcing them to comfort the community instead of having the community gather around them in support.
One of my main issues happens when individuals from the community come to express their sympathies to the person who has lost a loved one. Often the person from the community feels like they have to offer a revelatory word that just puts the whole loss in perspective or an encouraging word that makes the hurting person feel better.
But no such word exists. In death, there are few answers and many questions, there is little comfort, only much weeping.
What if instead of thinking we have to come up with a profound word of comfort to make everything better, we simply went to the person and put our arms around them and silently wept with them? What if, instead of trying to solve their problem by reminding them that ‘God has a plan’, we simply went and hugged them, understanding that God’s real plan is that we represent Him in the midst of that darkness? What if we realized that God’s plan in suffering is that we be his arms of comfort silently wrapped around the hurting person?
After Job’s family died his friends came and sat silently with him for 3 days. They didn’t say a word. They just mourned with him. Their idiocy occurred after those 3 days when they thought they had the answers for suffering.
Maybe we can learn something from this – comfort the mourning with your silent embrace of them, not with your verbal attempts at problem solving.
You might be surprised, there’s a profound comfort in silence.