How Are You Doing?

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Please be patient with mourning people. Give them time. And don’t forget to keep praying for them.

One thing often asked of someone when they have had someone close to them die is, “How are you doing?” Please know that is the hardest question to answer.

Can I just answer for all people who are grieving a recent loss right now? Not very well.

Please don’t hold that against us. It’s just that we are missing that person badly. We are very, very sad.

We have moments of peace, even joy, but more moments of sadness. We are suffering, yet learning. Grieving, yet rejoicing. Mourning and occasionally laughing. But a good part of the time, we are sad.

It hits us really hard when we are not expecting it. Little landmines we step on, filled with memories.

So, if you happen to catch us at such a moment and ask, “How are you doing?,” you may not like what you see and hear.

God is with us

But know this–God is with us. There is even a blessedness in mourning.

Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” But it is mourning, which includes deep sadness, tears, and pain.

Somewhere, we have gotten the idea that sadness and mourning are to be immediately replaced by happiness and celebration. I think in time they will be, but there will always be a hole in the life of a person who has lost a loved one.

The Bible says there is “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:4,7 NLT). After Stephen was martyred, “Some godly people came and buried Stephen with loud weeping” (Acts 8:2 NLT emphasis mine).

We won’t “get over it”

There is a lot of weeping when a loved one has died, especially if it was unexpected. They simply will not “get over it.”

When a person has been a part of your life, like our son Christopher was for us for 33 years, you don’t just “edit” them out of the script. You notice that empty chair at the table. They are still so much a part of you, yet they are just gone.

That is very hard to comprehend.

A better thing to say

So, instead of asking “How are you doing?,” maybe you’re better off just saying, “I am sorry for your loss,and I am praying for you!” Or smile and say, “Love you!”

The person may want to talk about it, and if they do, listen, don’t talk. Job’s counselors had that right. It’s when they started talking that the problems began.

You see, when you are mourning, you are vulnerable. The armor is down, and you are sensitive to the right and wrong things being said. You can be easily hurt and, at the same time, helped by what people say and do.

So only speak if you are sure you have the right words from the Lord to give to someone who is grieving. The Bible says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 NKJV).

But do say something!

Having said that you should not say the wrong thing, do say something! The only thing more painful than having said the wrong thing is saying nothing.

I know you might be afraid the person will cry if you mention their loved one. But they might resent it if you don’t.

Crying is not necessarily a bad thing anyway. There can be tears of joy.

You need to know that when people are grieving, they are “not themselves.” You don’t know how you will react to things, and thus people do not know what to say.

If someone tells me a story about my son, or shares a memory, I like to hear that. I have been getting a crash course in this, so it’s all very fresh to me. I have lost my grandparents and my mom, and as hard as those were, nothing is like this.

So please be patient with mourning people. Give them time. Don’t forget to keep praying for them. Store these thoughts up in your mind, like a squirrel would store up nuts for the winter. Because someday you may need to know them for yourself.

 

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