Grief is a funny thing. It lays low for a short while when you are busy, or distracted, or trying to resume your “normal” life. Then something triggers it and it rears up with a sharp and sudden pain that leaves you gasping for breath. You find yourself trying to swallow the huge lump of tears in your throat because you know if you let them rise to the surface they will come out as a river of tears.

I awoke the night my Dad died at 4am. Slowly when I was not quite conscious of reality. My first thought was, “I can’t believe my friends are going to drive 5 hours to attend the funeral”. My second thought was, “I can’t wait to tell my Dad. He will love this!” And my third thought as I became fully conscious was, “I will never be able to tell my Dad anything again.” Needless to say, lots and lots of tears followed this thought.

I remember during that endless night saying over and over to myself a snatch of scripture that was stuck in my mind. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Psalm 34:18 in full reads, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” A reminder, yet again, that I need to study, memorize and internalize God’s Word so that it is my automatic default in all situations.

Throughout the Psalms we find verses that remind us that God is near. Psalm 119:151 - You are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. Psalm 145:18 - The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call out to Him in truth. Psalm 147:3-5 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

I do not know if you have lost a loved one with whom you were very close. It gives you a whole new appreciation of the importance of showing up. Physically if possible. By phone and by text if not. Cards and the written word matter. A meal dropped off matters. A hug really, really matters. Staying the course with the one who is grieving – not just the day of or week after but through the ongoing process – it matters.

And as for triggers that make the grief fresh all I can say is beware. For my brother it was Bush’s Baked Beans. For my mom working in the yard. For me a bottle of ketchup (or lack there-of).

Precious Father – Thank you that you are near to the brokenhearted. May they feel your presence in a mighty way today Lord. Thank you for the assurance that my Dad is in heaven with you today and the comfort that fact brings to those who remain.  Amen.