When you go through loss; especially when it is a sudden death, especially when the person is young, especially when it is your husband, people simply just. don’t. know. what to say. There were lots of well meaning people who showed up at our house or Taylor’s service and exclaimed that they were just “dying” to get there and give me a hug. I would stare blankly back at them with my bloodshot eyes and bite my tongue as I thought to myself “Really?? the only person who was actually DYING here was my husband.”
There were also countless acquaintances who reached out only to say how shocked they were to hear the news. This was another comment I just didn’t know what to do with. Am I supposed to comfort you here? Oh, I’m so sorry to hear how shocked and heartbroken YOU are. When you are grieving and looking for something to get angry about, the ill spoken comforters can easily become collateral damage. However, letting someone else’s words fester in your brain that already has too much real stuff to worry about only hurts yourself. We are not designed to carry the weight of hurt caused by others (or imagined to be) which is why God tells us to forgive.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32
After the funeral, I received a lot of books on loss and grief that I devoured when I didn’t know what else to do with my time. Some were hard to take seriously when they talked about different kinds of struggles in life. Other people’s problems all had possible solutions and the only solution to my loss is accepting that I will never see Taylor again this side of heaven. Other writers took a negative, woe is me tone that I didn’t appreciate. If you knew my husband, then you know that Taylor Marley didn’t marry a victim.
One of the most helpful books I received was given to me by one of our pastors, Sean Lee. Grieving With Hope is full of so much useful advice and biblical application and has been a great source of comfort for me. It has one chapter on Dealing with Insensitive Comforters. There is a line in this chapter that seems so obvious, but I think I needed to see in black and white type to realize its truth…“Few people sit around thinking of ways to offend grieving people.” (pg.62)
It is actually laughable when you think about this. I know that nobody bought a plane ticket or hopped in their car and drove hours out to the ranch spending their travel time wondering, “When I get there, what can I say to Molly that would really exacerbate her heartbreak?” People simply just don’t know what to say so they risk putting their foot in their mouth or don’t say anything at all (even more hurtful). This is true in a lot of our interactions with each other. We are not always great at communicating and this becomes worse the more ways there are to communicate with each other. We are called to be patient and gentle with each other (Ephesians 4:2). I know I would want the same grace granted to me when someone doesn’t understand my intentions or my tongue doesn’t articulate well what is really on my heart. Be kind to one another and withhold judgement-only God knows the hearts and minds of someone else. Simple advice, but it was something I simply needed to hear to accept the love and true intentions of my comforters.
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