Are you grieving over the death of a family member? If so, how can you cope with your loss? Consider how the Bible helped three young people deal with this very challenge.
At first, it seemed to be a simple headache. But when my dad’s pain got worse, my mom called an ambulance. I still remember the paramedics taking him away. Little did I know that it was the last time I would see him alive. Three days later, my dad died as a result of an aneurysm. I was just six years old.
For years, I blamed myself for my dad’s death. In my mind I would replay that scene of the paramedics taking him away, and I would ask myself: ‘Why did I just stand there? Why didn’t I do something?’ I would look at older ones with health problems and wonder, ‘Why are they alive and my dad isn’t?’ In time, my mom helped me to talk about my emotions. And as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we had wonderful support from the congregation.
Some people think that you can grieve right after a tragedy and then be over it, but that wasn’t the case with me. I didn’t really grieve until I was in my early teens.
My advice to young people who have lost a parent in death is, “Talk to someone about what you’re going through. It may be that the sooner you let your emotions out, the healthier it will be for you.”
Yes, it’s hard to go through milestones in my life and know that my dad isn’t here with me. But I find comfort in the Bible’s promise at Revelation 21:4, which says that soon God “will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”
Some of the best memories I have are of fishing with my dad and camping with him in the mountains. He loved the mountains.
My dad had heart problems for some time; I remember visiting him in the hospital once or twice in my early childhood. But I didn’t understand the severity of his illness. My dad died of heart disease when I was nine years old.
After he died, I cried and cried. I felt as if I were suffocating, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I hadn’t felt this bad in my whole life, and I didn’t feel like doing anything anymore. The church youth group I was part of showed interest in me initially, but it quickly faded. People there would say things like this, “It was your father’s time” or “God called him” or “He’s in heaven now.” Those answers never really satisfied me, but I had no knowledge of what the Bible really teaches about those things.
Then my mom started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and later my brother and I joined her. We learned about the condition of the dead as well as God’s comforting promise of a resurrection. (John 5:28, 29) But the scripture that helped me the most was Isaiah 41:10, where God says: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you.” Knowing that Jehovah was with me was a tremendous comfort during my grieving, and it still is.
When I was seven years old, my mom died of cancer. That whole day seemed surreal. I recall that she died at home and that my grandparents were there. I remember that everyone was calm. I remember that we had scrambled eggs for dinner. I felt as if my whole life were turning upside down in slow motion.
At the time—and for years after that—I thought I had to be strong for my little sister, so I buried my emotions. Even today, I tend to suppress painful feelings, and that’s not healthy.
I remember the love and support we had from the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even though we had just started attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall, fellow believers rallied around us as if we had been family for years. I don’t think my dad had to cook dinner for an entire year because it was always waiting by the front door.
One scripture that stands out to me is Psalm 25:16, 17. There the psalmist implored God: “Turn your face to me and show me favor, for I am alone and helpless. The distresses of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.” It is comforting for me to know that you are never really alone when you are sad. God is there for you. With help from the Bible, I have been able to move forward with my life and focus on positive things, such as the Bible’s comforting promise of a resurrection. I have hope of seeing my mother again and getting to know her in perfect health on a paradise earth.—2 Peter 3:13.
Would you like to learn more about the Bible’s comforting message for those who are grieving? Download a free copy of the publication “When Someone You Love Dies.” Go to www.jw.org, and look under PUBLICATIONS > BOOKS & BROCHURES.