But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 ESV
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage them about the loss of those they love that are in Christ. He reminded them that they had a hope the world didn’t have. That hope is the resurrection. The hope we have in Jesus, is that just as he was raised from the dead, those that are faithful will be raised as well. To fall asleep (to die) in Christ is to have hope of being raised to eternal life in him. Those outside of Christ do not have this hope.
Even though disciples of Jesus have this hope, they still experience grief just as everyone else does. They know their loved one will be raised again, but the emotions surrounding such a great loss are still the same. The loss is felt just as deeply. The pain is just as severe. The process of grief and recovery is still the same. It is a process that takes time.
Many faithful people feel guilt for the grief they have in losing a loved one. They feel guilt over the emotions they go through in their grief. The grieving process is a God given process and should be accepted as such. As brothers and sisters in Christ we need to let those that are grieving know that what they are feeling, and what they are going through is normal and that God understands their grief. They don’t need to feel guilty for the emotions that they experience as they grieve.
Those that are grieving need love, support, and understanding from the body of Christ. They don’t need to be told to get over it and move on, or other such insensitive words. They need reassurance that what they are feeling is natural and must be experienced.
The church must be a refuge, and a place of solace for those that have suffered great loss. May we gather round those that grieve and love them through it.
© 2015 Leo J. Woodman