Monday, March 22, 2010

Must You Write in Every Blank Space?

With the loss of a family member and a few friends and acquaintances in the last few weeks, it has made me aware of how important it is to be sensitive at such a time. Thinking back, I remember receiving many wonderful words of encouragement and comfort. Many of the utterances are still framed in my heart as "apples of gold in pictures of silver."

We all want to be a blessing, especially in times of hardship. However, we must be cautious in our zealousness to help that we never blindly push our expressions because we feel spirituality dictates it. Life is fragile, and when dealing with a loss, people's hearts are even more fragile. Sensitivity must be foremost even if it means saying or writing nothing. Sometimes being a comforter means staying in the background - just committing ourselves to prayer for them.

Why do I say this? Well, I remember a particular card I received after losing my son Mark. Handwritten were details of Job's sin and his need to repent. This person said if we'd repent, good things would return to our lives. Such hurtful words, at a hurtful time. Then, when our granddaughter Zoe passed away a couple of years later, the same person sent another sympathy card referencing Job, repentance, and forgiveness of sin - declaring that then and only then would prosperity come. To say the least, this note written on every blank space of the card (and a large card at that) was extremely painful; and more plainly, awful. Her written words traveled around that card, up the sides from top to bottom and sometimes in between the printed message. The writing didn't stop there, it took off on the back side in three directions - either the writer was confused or wanted us to be. Unfortunately, this poor soul in presuming to be wise was a torturer - and no matter how you look at it, was making assumptions that we weren't living right or this event would have never happened.

A month or so later while extremely low in spirit, I mentioned the cards to my pastor's wife, who had also lost a child. She totally understood (had happened to her too) and gave me the best advice - go home and burn it. That losing Zoe was just another trial as it was in losing Mark. I followed her advice, and wow, what a relief to rid myself of those cards!

Do you believe that a decent, upright person can have adversity? Sure, they can. The Bible says that the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. We don't like to think that God allows things to happen to His own. However, in life, there are those designated to suffer more, carry heavier loads, and bear extreme heartache. It's the path they must take toward heaven, and not because they need to be suppressed to make it or they've been disobedient but it is just God's plan.

Above all, we must be very careful in our human summarizations for we may with our choice of words destroy not only the soul of the receiver but ourselves who are extending (a verdict). So remember the next time condolences are sent, be careful not to write in every blank space.


Kathy McElhaney said...

Sis. Hopper,
I hurt for what was said to you. I remember words that were spoken to Mom when Rod was dying that hurt our family so much.

Last year I spent several weeks studying the book of Job. A fabulous book I read about the life of Job pointed out that Job was not in sin. His friends accused him, but God called him "my servant Job, one who is perfect and upright." His trial did not come because of sin and it is sad that someone would accuse you of such.

I know I have learned to be very careful of my judgment of anyone. Only God knows what is in the heart and why one is going through such things.

Love you.

The Kendrick Clan's Scrapbook said...

I amazed that anyone would write something like that! My husband would call them "green"....I call them "mean"! :o)

You have touched my heart this morning...2010 has been days full of trials. You have reminded me that they are just trials...and we will get through them.

Love & Prayers,

Just a thought said...

Sis Hopper:
As I was reading your words my mind returned to an incident, coming up on nineteen years ago. I was in a Funeral Home for the viewing of by deceased wife. A “friend” placed a very nice flower by her casket and approached me as I was talking with other friends. The boiled degree of his comment was, “was Dana really saved?” I just stood there for a short second, removed my hand from his, and turned to my oldest son asking him to get this man’s plant. I handed the plant back to him and said, “Yes!”
This man was supposed to be a minister? Uncaring has no limit to people’s spirits.

Last year I read a book title, “When bad things happen to good people.” I very highly recommend this book to all as a good read.


Caroline said...

Whoa! Can't fathom someone doing such a thing!

Katrina Holmes (Tina) said...

I just can't fathom doing or saying such hurtful things! I do recall though, when my brother died in a car accident, his wife told my mom that he was in hell. She had some how come to the conclusion that he had broke his word to her by telling mom some things. He had never told mom any such things but her words hurt mom so teribly, especially because my brother loved his wife so much!
people can be so heartless!!

Thanks for the post. I want to be especially carefull with my words at all times!

Carol Connell said...

Sis. Hooper,

I appreciate this post. I can't imagine someone sending you a card like that. Not only is it hurtful and insensitive, but to me it smacks of pride. Your pastor's wife was wise in telling you to burn it. May God help us to choose our words wisely, especially when folks are going through difficult times.

Karen Hopper said...

I still hurt today for the things said to your Mom. Never would such things have been said by someone Spirit-led.

I'm with you - it's called Mean.

How sad that this man was not connected enough to offer support. We had such a person at my son's burial - and they considered themselves ministry also.

I dare not say but you know this person. I hurt for them, as I am sure they had no idea what they were writing.

Oh, how your mother must have hurt. Unfortunately, situations as such sometimes doesn't bring out the best in people.

I think if it had been one card when our son died that it could be understandable. But when our granddaughter passed the same sort of writing came from the same person. I pray that this person realized their insensitivity and made corrections.

Bev (Remer) McManus said...

Sis Hopper,
This is such an appropriate post. We just lost our Patriarch, my Grandpa Drobshoff & people I think just don't think before they speak. After my father died I had "friends" say that I wouldn't marry my husband if I ever wanted to see my dad again. Death brings out the strangeness in a lot of people. Thank you for this post & know that I think of Mark often & miss him Always. He was a wonderful guy & good friend.

Karen Hopper said...

Your grandfather was a wonderful friend to us - and such a great example. We loved him - and we do your grandmother. I consider her one of my special friends in life although the years have separated us. And your mother is a special friend also. We shared great times in San Jose. BTW: I miss Mark too. Thanks for dropping by. Love you and your family.