On March 15, 2018, my best friend, Tammy Sanchez, went home to be with Jesus. Through my journey of grief, I've talked to several people who know great loss. It's different for everyone, but there are some common feelings, like people who haven't experienced the loss of someone very close to them don't really know what to do or say. Here are my suggestions and a glimpse of what a Christian is feeling when a loved one passes. I pray it helps you as you minister to others in their time of grief.
Dear Christian friend,
Don't mistake my tears for a lack of faith. I know God is good. I know He is sovereign. I'm not mad at Him and definitely have not turned my back on Him. I cry for all the loss I've experienced. For all the holidays we won't celebrate together. For all the conversations we'll never have. For the years of laughter and joy that I thought was to
Don't mistake my mourning for a lack of understanding. I know she's in heaven. I praise God she's no longer in pain. I know she is feeling God's love, glory, and pure joy at this very moment. And that thrills me. But I'm mourning the loss of my biggest prayer warrior. The loss of my Barnabus. The loss of the one person who knew exactly what to say to me and when to say it because we shared twelve years of secrets, heartaches, dreams, struggles, and hopes. It's such an intense loss at times I feel numb and other times I cry uncontrollably.
Don't mistake my reflection as a refusal to continue forward. I know joyous days will come. I know God has good plans for me for a hope and a future. I need to remember to heal. I need to remember to be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for at times it feels overwhelming. But when I look back, I can hear the laughter. I remember her advice. I recall how she made me a better person.
I am a better person. I haven't digressed. God is just doing a new work in me. A painful work. A stretching. A cleansing. A rebuilding. He's teaching me how to move forward without the one I love though I'd rather not. He's demonstrating His love and sovereignty by leading me in a direction I don't want to go. I don't like this place. I never wanted it. I prayed against it. So, please don't mistake my tears for lack of faith, my mourning for a lack of understanding, or my reflection as a refusal to move forward.
He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it like He did with my best friend when He took her to heaven. Until then, I need to continue to work through this.
Are you at a loss for words? These are some phrases that bring a bit of peace to my heart:
I love you.
There are no words.
I'm praying for you.
I wish I could give you a hug.
Instead of texting me scripture, send me funny memes. I know the scriptures and every night I read God's Word. The Holy Spirit is guiding me, directing me, and healing me. But laughter will help me heal and the person who I laughed with until I cried is no longer here. I don't have it within me to seek out laughter. Some days the weight is so heavy. Laughter lightens the load for a moment or two. I need to know it's possible for me to laugh again.
Instead of telling me she's in heaven, ask me to share her journey with you. It doesn't hurt me to talk about it. It makes me smile because I remember her strength, her faith, and God's grace to take her home when He did.
Instead of asking how I am, ask me how you can pray for me. I'm going to not be okay for a while, so "how are you" feels like a loaded question. Every minute my needs are different and I've prayed so much in the last year, right now I have no words.
And it's okay if you have no words. If you see me, a hug tells me everything you are unable to. It tells me you're sorry for the pain, you're sorry things didn't go the way we prayed they would, that you understand my hurt and loss, and that you miss her, too.
This place of pain is deep, but it won't last forever. Please don't judge me while I'm here. What I need most of all is for you to show me love, because that is what I've lost.