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When A Loved One Dies

by Joani Schultz

My dad died. Suddenly.

The shock of it all ran through us like a shot of novocaine.

Time stood still. Even Dad’s bedside clock mysteriously stopped, as if realizing he no longer needed to check the time.

Through the shock of it all, our family experienced something amazing: The gifts of presence and presents. Here’s what we needed; here’s what you can give…

Your Presence

When someone hurts, it’s uncomfortable to reach out. We struggle to find the right words to say; we want to offer wisdom or advice. Silence scares us. Or we think our connection won’t really matter.

Yet presence, simple presence, spoke love the loudest. Caring friends and family didn’t need to say anything. They didn’t need to spew profound Scripture or clichés. They quietly, simply wrapped their arms around us. They offered a listening ear.

They. Gave. Presence.

Through others’ presence I experienced God, the Great I Am. He showed his power through others by simply “being” with us.

Your Presents

I call them “Midwestern Magi” bearing gifts. They came clad not in regal robes but heavy coats, hats, and boots to weather the freezing South Dakota temperatures with warm hearts. These kind, generous folk brought armloads of gifts—hot dishes, soups, salads, pies, cookies, bars, bread, cheese, pickles, butter, meat—even paper plates, napkins, toilet paper, and Kleenex (plenty of Kleenex). Not only did their arms carry gifts but also long, loving hugs for my mom.

Tangible tokens of care made life easier. When grieving, we didn’t need anything fancy. In fact, a box of Kleenex and a roll of toilet paper meant we didn’t need to worry about the mundane. We could focus on the task of mourning.

Simple, everyday gifts brought us comfort.

When someone dies, I am reminded of God’s simple truth. WE can be Jesus for each other. Our simple presence and presents matter.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).

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When A Loved One Dies

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