As the Oklahoma tornado victims slowly move toward recovery, pain piles high next to the debris.
Heartbroken parents who will never again nuzzle their child's hair. Children never again hearing a bedtime story from mom. A wife who rolls over to greet an empty space in a bed made for two.
What can we possibly say that will make things better?
When unspeakable loss crumples a heart to its knees hard, deep grief doesn't hear well. They experience devastation deafness, so to speak. I've been there. Felt that.
This tragedy caused me to reflect on how I initially comfort those who grieve.
Am I helping or hindering?
So often at funerals, well-intentioned people launch feel-good speeches at a grieving person about how God has a plan. How He will bring good out of their loss. That through adversity, God provides opportunity for faith to strengthen and grow.
But hold on.
There is a right time and place for those truths. But it's not during the funeral.
A well-known pastor transmitted this tweet yesterday: "In deep pain, people don't need logic, advice, encouragement, or speeches. They just need you to show up and shut up."
Devastated hearts need someone to sit in the dirt and cry with them. Or a strong shoulder to lean against when their trembling knees go weak. Or a comforting hug expressing love and support in a thousand silent ways.
And lots of prayers without ceasing.
God promises to "heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds."
And He is faithful to do exactly that.
So perhaps save the words for later -- when lessening degrees of grief restores their ability to hear them.
How have you offered comfort to someone during their initial stages of grief?.