Christian Cliches about Death

I realize that this post may be controversial with quite a few in the body of Christ but I felt it important to post anyway.  Just because something has always been quoted or said in Christian circles does not make it Biblically accurate.

Unfortunately, I have heard my own share of comments during this time and it has made me very sorrowful that the Body of Christ responds to grief and sorrow in this way.  I believe that this is something that God wants to teach us.  I am fairly certain that Jesus/God has not said and would not say any of the following statements to a person who has experienced loss.

The following is a writing from a pastor who lost his daughter:

When a person suffers the devastating loss of a loved one, you should–however well-intentioned you might be-keep your mouth shut.  Or at the very least, you should think long and hard before you say anything.  Here are some things I recently heard that did not help, and frankly were not true.
1)  “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” Not a saying from God, rather it’s a poorly-informed Job, who was later forced to revise his opinion.  As it happens, it was Satan who devastated Job’s life and family.
2) “You’ll get over it soon.” Wrong.  I hope I never get over the loss of my daughter. I don’t want to forget her love, her smile, her joys, her sorrows, and so many millions of other things that formed the sum total of her life.  I do not intend to get over it.  I intend to get beyond it by the grace of God, but in no way forgetting what happened to her at the end of her life in this world.  There will always be a Christy-shaped hole in my heart. Period.
3) “Sorry about your lost loved one.” This is well meant, of course, but bad theology.  Christy is not lost.  I right where to find her.  She is safe in the arms of Jesus.  One of our good Christian friends shared this experience with me from her charismatic prayer time, this week: “The Holy Spirit came upon the prayer so mightily.  My heart was not heavy, like it was before that prayer, and the witness the precious Holy Spirit gave us was that Christy has made it home.  I know she is home, but the prayer made it very real to us.” Exactly right.  She has gone before us, but is not a lost loved one wandering in oblivion.  She is a found loved one who has found her home in Christ.
4) “Well, at least you still have your son.” I am indeed very thankful our son and our Russian daughter alive and well, but I don’t believe in compensatory theology.  Having other children does not make the loss of Christy any less hard to bear.  As John Donne says, “Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am a part of mankind.” All the more so when it’s a member of my own family.
5) “God will make up for this with a twofold blessing.” Again, I don’t think God is a practitioner of some sort of new math or compensatory calculus, running the universe.  God has not been a naughty boy taking away my sweet-pea named Christy, and he has nothing to make up for.  I certainly do believe God works everything together for good, for those who love him.
So I leave myself open to such working, trusting it will make me better, not bitter.
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3 Comments

  1. March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    AMEN!!! If I ever said this to someone experiencing grief, then I publicly apologize. When someone close to us passes away, I think we all just want to hear that our friends/family are there to support us however we need them. And then we really WANT them to be. 🙂
    Great post, Tammy!

  2. Ann said,

    March 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    You are so right, as was the pastor who wrote those things about his daughter’s passing. I hope (and am failry certian) that I have never said any of those things to you, or to anyone else grieving a loved one’s passing, but they are a great reminder of why we should just cry with you and be there (as Jesus did when he grieved the death – albeit temporary – of his dear friend Lazarus).

    I’ve found there is just a lot of bad theology on a lot of things, and even “verses” quoted that aren’t even in the Bible. i.e. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Um, yes He will. If He doesn’t, why would we ever need to rely on Him?

    I think so often, people just have no Biblical foundation, and they plain don’t know what to say, so they say something without thinking just so they can say something.

    Hugs to you, friend. I am looking forward to our coffee date. 🙂

  3. Sheila said,

    March 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I have no words to say that could even remotely give you comfort because I can’t come close to understanding the level of loss and grief you feel. I’ll just say that I am glad Jesus put you in my life because I learn so much from reading your posts and from your life as you walk close to Him during this overwhelming time. Thank you so much for being REAL and for not sugar coating your emotions and your thoughts. You truly are an encouragement to me (as well as so many others, I’m sure) and I will continue to pray for you and your children.


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