Hearing about a death tends to make me a bit reflective. I feel like I've seen so many of them. It never seems to make sense. One day a person is there and the next they simply aren't. Whether you were close to them or not, whether they were your best friend or simply that kid who you said hi to in the halls sometimes, it still doesn't make any sense. And it hurts.
Sometimes, you can feel okay about a death. If that person was old, for example. Great grandma or the sweet widow next door, their passing still hurts, but you're okay with it because they were old. Or, if you feel that the death served a purpose. We hurt over the deaths of our soldiers, and I'm sure the families of those soldiers hurt even more than I can really understand. But whether sooner or later, at some point, you become okay with it because they died for a cause, their life was not wasted. If someone is in much pain before dying we tend to be more at peace with their passing, as in the case of sweet Jan Severn, who battled cancer for four torturous years and still had a smile, a hug, and a word of encouragement for everyone - even to her last day.
But when we don't see the why, when it doesn't make sense to us or there isn't something we can comfort ourselves with, death becomes a source of pain, confusion, and sometimes intense bitterness. Nothing anyone can say will help. We stand over the coffin of that person at their funeral, staring down into a face that no longer looks quite like them. We recognize, perhaps more in that moment than in any other, that the person is gone. They aren't coming back. Even as you stare at the coffin and your brain delivers data to support the claim that the person is there, you know they aren't.
Nobody really knows how to properly deal with death, because it's not a part of the way we were created to be. Originally, the intention was not for mankind to die. And so when death happens, and especially when we can find no greater purpose for it with which to comfort ourselves, it just feels wrong. It is. Because nobody knows how to properly deal with death, because it's not something we were hardwired to handle gracefully, we often find ourselves saying some very stupid things. It is the responsibility of the grieving one to try not to hurt more from these things, to understand that the people who say them are well-meaning and simply don't know any better than to say these things sometimes. It is the responsibility of those with words to be careful and know that sometimes the best and only thing to do is to hug, to cry, and to pray. Reaffirm the strength of the grieving ones, reaffirm the fact that they are loved and supported, that they do indeed have somewhere to turn if they find themselves needing to lean. And pray. That is all there really is to do.
Death never seems to make much sense, and it always feels to our heart like a robbery. It is. But what we need to keep in mind is that grieving is natural, hurting is okay; but we should not choose to hold on to that hurt for very long, lest death embitters our inner well and claims us while we're still here. Remember the words of the bible: "do not be afraid" and "peace be with you"