While certainly not a subject most of us like to think about, due to the fact that we live in this fallen world it becomes one which will inevitably come up. Death of loved ones, untimely deaths, expected deaths, tragic deaths - we will experience them all whether it be in our immediate family, a friend's family, or a news story. The simple reality is that we cannot possibly hope to escape death's sting.
There are a multiplicity of sermons on the web and in church libraries which are meant to bring hope and comfort to hurting Christians. Some do, some undoubtedly do not. Because though knowing your loved one is with the Lord is indeed comforting, it still does not take away the pain due to the fact that they are no longer with us. I think there is a degree of misconception over grieving within the church. Grieving is not wrong. Regardless of the fact that we know our loved one is with the Lord. Regardless of the fact that we know they are kicking up their heals in joy and glory. Why? Because we do not grieve for them. We grieve for us.
We were NEVER meant to experience death. We were NEVER meant to go through the heartache and soul shattering loss - however temporary - which death brings crashing into our lives. We were NEVER meant to experience that. EVER! As ordained by God, the garden was to be a place of endless togetherness, fellowship, and love. We were never meant to be separated - from anyone! So to say that we ought not grieve simply is not right.
The verse which often gets short-quoted is I Thessalonians 4:13 which reads, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." The key here is in the ending. It says we are not to sorrow as those which have no hope. Does it say we are not to sorrow at all? NO! Please, do away with this misconception. Stop telling people not to sorrow because their loved ones are with God and they'll see them again. We KNOW this! We KNOW they are with God and that God is still good! There is no disputing that. But we were never meant to be touched by this ugly thing called death. Even God turned his presence away from Jesus Christ upon that cross and the entire sky darkened. Death cannot possibly happen without our soul crying out against the injustice of being left behind. It is not wrong to grieve and mourn this agony.
My friends, even JESUS wept when His friend died! Do not ever believe the lie that you cannot sorrow over your hurt and loss. Sorrow. Grieve fiercely. Rant and cry against the injustice of what you are suffering. Then cling to Christ and trust Him to help you rise and continue walking until that glorious day when you can shout, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Cling to Christ and joy in that day when you, too, will dance on heaven's shores and live forever before Christ with those who have gone on before you. But by all means, grieve.
As a side note: Don't know what to say when someone is grieving? Don't say anything at all. Just be there. LET them cry. Don't quote scripture. Just give them the love of Jesus. Because Jesus will get them through and more likely than not they know the verses you would quote anyway. Without the Lord's leading, quoting scripture for lack of something to say will simply fall flat and sound calloused. What they need is for you to weep with them, listen to them, and let them weep some more.