My wife died about a year ago, and at first everyone was very concerned and helpful. But now it's almost as if they don't know I exist—even people in my church. Why is this? Sometimes I get so lonely I can hardly stand it. — S.M.
I'm sorry people have drawn back; one reason I wanted to reprint your letter is because I hope it will make us more sensitive to those who grieve. The Bible says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).
Why do people react this way? One reason is because they may not realize just how wrenching the loss of a loved one is, and how long it takes for grief to begin to fade. After all, think of your own experience; before you lost your wife, did you honestly realize how deep and lasting grief can be?
Another reason may be embarrassment, or simply not knowing what to say to someone who is going through grief. Job's friends in the Bible are often criticized for their shallowness—but at least they sought out Job, and they wanted to help him. The Bible says that the first thing they did was simply be with him: "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 2:13). We all could profit from their example.
My prayer is that you will turn to Christ in a fresh way, and find new strength and comfort from Him. He knows your hurt, and He is with you. Jesus' promise is true: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). Then ask God to help you reach out to others who are grieving, so you can encourage and strengthen each other.