My friend experienced a loss deeper than I can fathom this week. It was sudden, heartbreaking, and left us all in the wake of uncertainty and doubt.
I’m a fixer. I don’t grasp the notion of “wait,” and it took everything in me not to pack up my car and drive the 4.5 hours to her mere minutes after hearing the news. I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside this sweet friend the past few years–learning together and growing together–so my smothering/mothering instinct kicked in. Never have I dealt with a friend this close deal with a loss this deep, so I did what any naive idiot would do: I googled “things to do when your friend loses a parent.”
Nothing made sense. I can’t do a single thing. I want to fix, but that’s not my job.
Below are all the things I’ve been repeating incessantly the last few days. The things I want her to know and what I would want someone to remind me of in the midst of tragedy.
- I don’t understand, I won’t understand, and I’m not supposed to understand how you are feeling. I hope I never come across as empathetic or “I-understand-how-you’re-feeling.” My feels have literally zero bearing on your feelings. In addition, my (lack of) head knowledge on loss and grief is pathetic. Read and hear my words to you as a desperate longing to walk this ugly, horrifying, and disgusting road right by your side, not as someone who “gets it.”
- God is sovereign, even though we don’t know what His sovereignty looks like. This is in our classic Christian-ese language, but it’d be a disservice to the Lord we know so dearly to forget this. A song I love says, “I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.” In His position as King of the universe, not one minute is outside of what He has planned. This didn’t surprise Him. It reminds us of our position of unknowing and our trust in the All-Knowing.
- I’m not going anywhere. I am willing to have tearful, hard conversations with you, and I’m willing to smile with you when you’re ready. I want you to know that I am here at 2 a.m. and at 2 p.m. and this week and next month and forever. I’m not going anywhere.
- I solemnly swear to never, ever chant Romans 8:28 to you. You know the one. The “all things work together for good” one. You and I also know that it is true. But Lord help me if I hear a single person say that to you. This–this pain, hurt, and sorrow–is not good. It’s a tragedy, and I promise not to use this verse to sweep it under the rug and pretend it’s not there.
- You have every right to say any curse words you want. Enough said. Curse it out, girl. I’ll drop some bad words right there with you, if it makes you feel better.
- When the world goes back to normal, your world doesn’t have to. There is no deadline for your grief to subside. Life won’t be “normal,” because someone you loved who made it normal is gone. Grace abounds for you, sweet girl. Take time. Process. Cry a lot. Remember a lot. There’s not an iota of rush in mourning.
- You are braver than I ever knew. I thought I knew you inside and out, my friend. You have blown me away with your courage, your steadfastness, and your hope. You are brave. Never forget that.
- One thing the Lord promises is that He will keep us. Psalm 121 calls the Lord our “keeper.” He keeps us from harm and evil. I hesitate at that, because what you are in is all harm and all evil. The psalmist is talking about eternity, though. Jesus said that the world will bring us troubles undoubtedly, but He has the victory. In the lowest lows, He will keep you. You are His forever, and He won’t let you go. There is such peace in that.
- It’s okay that prayer is hard. God hears you, even when you simply whisper. When we’re in the trenches, He promises to be beside us in the depths. It’s just not in His character to force you to wade through deep waters without wading right there with you. Whisper–if only a single cry for help–and He hears. How wonderful it is to be loved by a Savior who hears our tiniest prayers.
- God is still good. Speaking of His character, it never wavers. Hebrews tells us He is the same yesterday that He is today and that He will be forevermore. If you believe nothing else, believe this.
To you, my sweet friend. You are loved and cherished, and you have an army of prayer warriors by your side. I love you.