With Deepest Sympathy and Heartfelt Condolences

Dahlia Sympathy (1)I “heard” from a college friend yesterday (via a facebook status update) that he lost his sister. I am honestly heartbroken over the news. I knew his sister, though not well, and at one point I was really close to his family. I am slightly stunned by the emotions this situation has brought up. All I want to do is give them all a big hug. I want to be there to help make food for the husband and children she left behind. I want to help manage all the guests that are likely dropping by to offer their condolences to her parents and brother. I want to help make this as easy a process as earthly possible. I want to be able to hold their hands and in some small way offer peace, consolation, or understanding. I want to stand beside them as they say goodbye to their daughter, sister, mother. I just want to help with the pain. I suppose this is a fairly normal reaction to death. Still, it seems weird for me to feel this way. With one recent exception, I haven’t seen or spoken to this family in something like 5 years. It leaves me feeling awkward because, the fact is, I’m not a part of his family anymore. He’s married; I’m married. We have very separate, different lives.

I tried explaining my feelings to my husband. Being a man who’s truly in touch with his feelings, he very eloquently said something like, “I’m sure it’s normal to feel that way.” Bless his heart. He tries to understand me. He knows I don’t what him to solve my problems, but he’s a man; that’s what he does. When he is unable to be the solver, I get a reassuring statement like the one above. I know his intentions and I love him for those intentions, but, as a woman, I need to sift through my feelings with someone. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

All I know is my heart is breaking for this family and that I apparently still love them despite time, distance, or circumstance. Ever since I heard the news, it’s all I can think about. I even dreamed about it last night. I feel helpless, but I also feel confused. I don’t even know if these feelings are appropriate considering the time, distance and circumstance that do separate us. I sent a sympathy gift to the family and notes of condolence to a few of the family members. That helped a little. At least I feel like I did something.

I just don’t know how to reconcile the way I feel with the reality of our situation. I’m not sure why I feel the way I do, but I desperately want to reach out to them. I just don’t think it’s my place. But, then again, looking at it from a Christian perspective, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ and it’s only natural for me to reach out to the family. I just don’t know what to do. Obviously, I’m constantly praying for them. Maybe that’s all I should do?

As I type this the visitation is starting. I can’t begin to fathom what those boys are thinking and feeling as they look at their mother lying there in eternal rest. Or her parents as they look at their daughter. Or her brother as he looks at his sister. Or her husband as he looks at his wife. My constant prayer is that the family is granted peace, comfort, and understanding, that they are brought closer to Christ and to each other through this tragedy, and that family and friends wrap them in a blanket of compassion and support. I just wish I could tangibly help with those things instead of merely praying for them.

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