Experiencing the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest transitions we face here on earth. The days and weeks that follow seem overwhelming at times. As believers, we do have the assurance, through our Lord, of everlasting life with Him in heaven after we transition out of this life. As friends and family members who have been left behind to begin a new normal, the encouraging word from a friend may be just what we need to carry us through our grief. Let me share with you a story of encouragement that was told to me by Mom, Leta Strong.
Connie (Strong) Nave, second child of Dean and Leta Strong(retired WGM missionaries from Kenya), went to her eternal home in heaven after battling cancer on December 22, 2014. The afternoon of Connie’s funeral, Dean and Leta decided to share some of the beautiful funeral flowers with Harold and Evelyn Harriman, retired WGM missionaries from Paraguay. The Harrimans now reside in a local nursing home. Dean and Leta Strong, Harold and Evelyn Harriman, and Connie all attended the same church in Gas City, Indiana. Even though the Harriman family and the Strong family served many years in the same organization, their paths didn't cross much until retirement.
As they interacted in the nursing home after Connie’s funeral, which the Harrimans weren't able to attend, Evelyn asked Leta how she was doing with the loss of her oldest daughter. Leta responded that it had been a long, hard day. Evelyn said, “Leta, we have both served ‘terms of service’ with WGM and we have also seen our kids off to ‘terms at boarding school.’ Can you look at this separation from Connie as just another ‘term,’ even though we don't know how long it will be? We have the assurance that you will see her again.”
Leta felt that this was a concept she could embrace, based on life experiences with WGM. Time here on earth will pass quickly, but eternity in heaven is truly our goal. This, too, shall pass. That day, Evelyn offered an encouraging thought that Leta could cling to during her early hours of grief.
Thank you, Evelyn, for sharing such a lovely concept with our family during those hard days. You were used by God to encourage our hearts.
ACT: Do you know someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one? Take time this week to ask them for coffee. You don’t need to have all the right answers. Truly, one of the best ways to help is to just be a good listener.