A few weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. My good friends from my church, Autumn and Ben, lost their little girl, Addisyn, in a horrific car accident and their other daughter, Ashtyn, sustained significant injuries. Addisyn had an immense love for God and love for people. She had a heart to serve and to tell the world about Jesus — she radiated pure joy!
Who is ever prepared for their child to die? On top of that, who is ever prepared for all of the responsibilities and decisions that come along with the loss of a loved one?
I went to the hospital to visit the family, and they were surprisingly in good spirits. I hugged Autumn and told her I loved her. I didn’t have any other words to say, and it’s ok I didn’t. Ashtyn was being showered with gifts and candy galore by her dad’s fellow sheriff officers. There was such an outpouring of love and generosity, and it was a beautiful sight to see.
I’ve lost my fair share of people, and I have walked with dear friends who have lost loved ones. It never gets easier. I’m a fixer by nature, but loss is simply not something you can fix. I’ve learned that though words might be few, there are some things we can do to mourn those who mourn.
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Job’s friends actually did something right here. They sat with him. They may have even cried. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. One thing I have learned as my friends have encountered loss is that they don’t want someone to come to the rescue. They don’t need someone who thinks they have all the answers. They want and need someone to see them, to hear them, and to grieve with them.
It’s actually quite simple. Often, we over complicate what it looks like to walk with someone in a crisis. We just need to show up with arms wide open and a heart ready to be present.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10)
This is one I can do. I operate in a very much Martha-type role. I am super practical and love acts of service. In times of loss or tragedy, this can bring such comfort, support, and security. Bring a meal. Help them with their kids. Clean their house. Do their laundry. Run errands.
Meet those who are hurting right where they are. I try not to put people in positions where they even have to make decisions. I will go ahead, make the decision for them, and tell them what the game plan is so they can feel a sense of relief and release.
Rally together for the long road ahead.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The world will know us by our love. Godly love for each other isn’t flaky. It is dependable and constant. It sacrifices and puts others before ourselves. Godly love is a servant-hearted love that gives even when it’s not convenient.
Grief never comes at the right time or when we are prepared for it. It can knock the wind right out of us. But God is present, and we experience His love, comfort, and grace through community.
I watched Autumn and Ben get covered with love by our community. People helping them financially, friends providing anything and everything they need while their daughter Ashtyn recovers, even getting a star named after Addisyn!
I have watched what it looks like to grieve with hope from Autumn and Ben. They both spoke at Addisyn’s celebration with such faith, expressing nothing but gratitude for the outpouring of generosity and support from community. They proclaimed the goodness and the greatness of our God because they know death is not the end.
I know the Lord has been faithful to surround me with community when I’ve needed them most, and I aim to be a friend who is present and committed to walking the long road with others when they are suffering.