Responding To Death :: by Grant Phillips

I received an email from Scott Isert concerning an article I wrote called, “Death, Then What?” Mr. Isert knows personally the anguish in losing one’s spouse. I was very touched by what he had to say, and feel he has provided much insight that would be enlightening for us all. Following is what he had to say in its entirety.
My wife died five years ago and I found myself isolated within the church because people did not know what to do or say after a death. My wife and I were very active in the church and folks simply backed away after her death. Strange, is it not?

This is an example of what I am now able to share with someone who has lost a loved one:

Dear Marty & Family:

I thought that I would write and share some things with you that hopefully would encourage you after the loss of your husband.

Most people that have not dealt with death before do not know how to encourage someone who has lost their loved one. They simply ignore and hope that you somehow get “better” or “over it.” A simple thing to do is to say that “I am so sorry for your loss.” Even Christians in the church who have known one another for over 20 years ignore those who are hurting and sitting in the pews.

I can speak from personal experience and would like to encourage you during this hard time in your life:

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Please know that you and your family are not alone or forgotten. I will be praying for you and your family.

I do not know why bad things happen to good people. I do not know why some prayers are not answered for healings from disease and sickness. It is NOT due to a lack of faith or sin in our lives. God is NOT mad at you.

As Christians, we are not promised a perfect life on this earth. I know this from my own personal experience for the past 16 years. I just want to share some things with you and hope that it helps you during this sad time in your life…

Grief can be described as an up and down roller coaster of emotions: shock, devastation, denial, self-doubt, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, and finally acceptance. It can also be compared to standing on the beach at the ocean and suddenly being overwhelmed by a big wave when least expected. As Christians, we know our loved ones are in Heaven with the Lord, but we are so very sad for our loss here on earth.

(It took me about 2-1/2 years after my wife died to understand the meaning of acceptance. Acceptance is simply having the will to go on with the rest of your life after losing your loved one. I have found that this is the most difficult thing to do when you wake up in the morning each day and the house is now empty and quiet. It is so very easy to lose your joy and interest in the things that you formerly enjoyed.)

Words of encouragement are inadequate during such times in our lives. There is nothing that anyone else can do or say that will take this pain away. I felt sorry for my Mom and Dad when they told me that they wished that they could do something to take away the pain and sadness when my wife died.

Our parents could always fix things for us and make us feel better when we were children. They can only grieve, worry, and pray for us now as adults. This is literally something very personal between God and you. Grief is the price that we all must pay when we love someone and live long enough on this earth. I know that you feel that a part of you has died. I felt that my heart was literally ripped out of my body when my wife died. Time will indeed slowly lessen this horrible and terrible pain that you currently feel. (I do know from personal experience that my emotions have slowly healed with the passing of time. I just do not know when or if my heart will ever be completely healed again.)

I have asked God to fill the empty void in my life. It is a strange feeling to be lonely and sad but to also have His comfort and peace. We serve a merciful God. There have been several times that I have smelled a sweet fragrance in my home when I was feeling down that could not be explained. Two times I was awoken at night by the sound of a mighty wind and it was not storming outside. I have also smelled fresh bread and a cake being baked in the oven on several occasions. I believe that God reveals Himself to us when we go through the difficult and hard times in our lives. Ask God to give you comfort and peace when you are sad. Be still and listen…

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 AKJV)

Death is a reality check and a reminder of our own mortality. Everyone wants to go to Heaven when they are younger, but we want to experience driving, graduation, marriage, children, homes, careers, etc. Now, I have a yearning to be reunited with my wife in Heaven. I consider my life fulfilled at this moment and I am ready to go to Heaven. My wife’s death has made me not fear death any more. I could not say that before her death.

I sorely miss her companionship and friendship. Loneliness and sadness are very difficult to deal with after a death. Remember that people may disappoint, but God will never fail us. God gives us comfort and peace during our time of grief and sadness.

I have enclosed some Bible scriptures that have comforted me during my own time of grief and sadness. I pray that they will bring comfort and peace to you during your own time of grief and sadness. Please read them over and over again to get them inside your mind and spirit. I believe it helps even more to read these scriptures out loud. Remember that there is power in the spoken Word of God.

My favorites are:

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) (This verse accurately describes someone that has lost a loved one.)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-57)

I believe that Jesus will be returning very soon for His people in the Rapture! As Christians, we have the confidence and hope of being reunited with our loved ones when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This may occur sooner than you expected! That expectation and hope has helped me compensate for my loss.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

“And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17)

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Knowing that God will wipe every tear from our eyes and that there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain has helped me. I still cry about my loss but not as much with the passage of time. God will do the same thing for you and your family.

The Bible tells us that we MUST comfort others as God comforts us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Christians who suffer a loss through death pay a high price for compassion. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone else. Empathy is when you truly know how someone else feels from personal experience. This letter is my feeble way of reaching out and trying to encourage you. I have prayed out loud many times to God and have asked Him to hear my cries and to touch the pain. I am praying that God will do the same for you and your family.

Remember that there will be no more death, mourning, sorrow, crying, or pain when we are reunited with our loved ones in Heaven. The Bible promises that God will wipe every tear from our eyes. Thank and praise God for blessing you with each other. Thank and praise God for His blessings and favor for the remainder of your lives. Remember that God is good, faithful, and merciful to His people. God knows how we feel after a death because He gave the world His Son (Jesus) to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). God really knows how you feel and loves you very much.

I have also included some reading material that has helped me.

May God Bless and Comfort You,

“The tears will flow like the rain, but the sun will shine once again.”

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

Scott Isert

Grant Phillips