Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. –Romans 12:15
My wife received a message the other day from a colleague of hers whose brother-in-law had just passed away from Acute Leukemia. This colleague was seeking advice from another Christian on what to say to his sister and her family. This is always a tough question because in reality what do you say to a family member, or friend, or loved one when somebody that they love has passed away? You want to sound like you know what you are talking about by saying something that will make them feel better, but in reality you are probably just making things worse. Many Christians (myself included) will turn to the Bible to try and find “that perfect verse” that will make everything better for that person. The problem is that doesn’t always work. More often than not, it can make you come across as someone who is insensitive. So what do you do? First and foremost is to pray. Pray for that person letting God know that that person is hurting. God already knows but He has told us to care for and to pray one another. Also pray for yourself asking God to give you direction to know what to do.
In summer of 2006 my mother was diagnosed with the same type of Leukemia and just 4 weeks later she passed away. During that 4 week period all of my immediate family temporarily moved back into my mother’s house so that we could be there for her final days. When my mother finally passed what I remembered most was not the kind words that people said or cards that were sent to us. What I remember most was the kind things that people from my mother’s church and my church did for us. Meals prepared and brought over, people stopping by to see if they could help out or take care of house-hold maintenance. Some people came over just to sit and be with us as we tried to process what had just happened.
So I believe that it can be best not to say anything at all, but just be there for the person. Yes it can be kind of awkward to just sit and be with someone and not really say anything, but I think that we can be far more effective if we just listen and not talk. Just like Paul said in his letter to the Romans “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” –E.C.