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God can heal a broken heart

"A bereaved person needs acceptance," writes minister who lost a son.

MONROE, La. — “I just want to go to sleep before Thanksgiving and wake up after Christmas.”

That is what my dear elderly friend Elizabeth said to me. She lost her young daughter many years ago on Christmas Eve. She loved her family very much, but the holidays could never be the same. Her statement remains a clear memory for me years later. The reason she told me about her feelings is because I am also a bereaved parent. We understood one another.


Related: Despite ‘unthinkable’ grief, Christian couple has hope for the holidays


The hectic season of parties, gifts, music and events can intensify feelings of sadness and loss for grieving people. Can the church do anything to bless those who are hurting? Yes, but there should be an understanding of what it means to help.

John Dobbs

John Dobbs

Quoting a few Bible verses and expecting the grieving person to get over the loss is ineffective. The truth is that there is no solution for grief. Grief is not a problem to be solved. It is the natural reaction to the permanent loss of a loved one. Churches cannot take away the grief of the hurting soul. Grief is a long and uneven experience that can only be helped by care and consistent friendship from compassionate people.

Churches can make good efforts to share the burden of grief by offering “Blue Christmas” remembrance services, grief-related reading materials and support groups. For those who are new to the grief experience, church members can make sure the day-to-day needs of the hurting are met.

A bereaved person needs space. They need to be able to come to worship without being asked a thousand questions about how they are doing.  They are not doing well.

A bereaved person needs to know someone cares. A note in the mail, a phone call, a lunch invitation — all are a blessing.

A bereaved person needs to know someone cares. A note in the mail, a phone call, a lunch invitation — all are a blessing.

A bereaved person needs help but doesn’t always know how to ask or whom to ask. If you have a skill, offer to help a grieving friend free of charge.

A bereaved person needs acceptance. Elizabeth didn’t need me to correct her or comment on what she said. She just needed to be heard. Church members can be there for a bereaved friend, but God alone can truly heal the broken heart.

JOHN DOBBS is preaching minister for the Forsythe Avenue Church of Christ in Monroe, La. He and his wife, Margaret, have two children, one of whom died in 2008 at the age of 18. Dobbs travels and presents a Bible-based seminar, “Getting Acquainted with Grief.” Contact him via his blog, JohnDobbs.com, for more information.

Filed under: christmas grief holidays Opinion Top Stories Views

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