There are many different seasons in life. As Ecclesiastes puts it, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven . . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). One of those seasons which impact all of us is dealing with the loss of a loved one. The pain of losing a loved one is unlike anything else on earth.
Life is upended and is forever changed. At times like these, we need a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear into which to pour out our fears, frustrations, and dreams, and a space to be as we go through the complicated emotions that come with grief and loss.
Bible Verses for the Passing of a Loved One
Scripture has a lot to say about the pain caused by death. In many stories, we see God’s people as they wrestle with the death of their loved ones in various circumstances.
They grieve for their leaders (Deuteronomy 34:8), for their countrymen lost in battle (Joshua 7:6-10), for their friends (2 Samuel 1:17-27), their children (2 Samuel 18:19-33), and their spouses (Genesis 23:1-2). We also get to hear and see how people walked alongside them during those times, and the comfort given to them to support their journey toward healing.
Feel what you feel
Losing a loved one brings about many different and complex emotions. You may have heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These don’t necessarily occur in that order, and at times you may think you’re over your anger, and something happens which triggers that emotion again.
You may find that you get to acceptance of your loved one’s loss quite quickly without feeling anger or denial, or you may find it hard to get through depression; it’s important to remember that grieving loss is a process, one in which we feel and think many things in a non-linear and unpredictable way. Some days are “good” days, and others are simply hard and difficult to get through.
Despite knowing he would raise him from the dead, Jesus wept over the death of his good friend Lazarus (John 11:35). King David mourned and wept when he lost his child (2 Samuel 18). These Scriptures and many others in the Psalms and elsewhere remind us to feel what we feel, and not pretend that it’s otherwise.
Grieve, if that’s what your heart wants to do right now. Sometimes you’ll laugh when you remember your loved one, and that’s okay. Sometimes the memories are just too painful and they make you cry, and that is also okay.
The Psalms give us language for both praise and lament. We can give thanks to God:
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. – Psalm 9:1
. . . and yet we can also say . . .
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1.
We can pour out our souls before God with words such as:
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? … I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. – Psalm 6:2,3,6
The loss of a loved one sets off many different emotions in us. It is important to know that God loves us and has us in His hands; we can express the full range of our emotions to Him and know that He welcomes and can handle it.
We have a comforter
God is the God of all comfort, who wants to draw near to us in our time of distress. “Praise be to the God and Father of compassion,” writes Paul, “and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (1 Cor. 1:3-4).
In our distress, God, who is the good shepherd, comforts us through his Holy Spirit, meeting us where we are in our groaning, our crying, our anger and in our despair.
Not only that but the community of God’s people, which has experienced distress and been similarly comforted by God, is able to walk alongside others and comfort them in their time of need. God’s people are encouraged to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15)
God is with us in our troubles:
“…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…”” – Hebrews 13:5-6
He has placed a community around us to mourn with us, comfort us, and lift us up.
Death is a defeated enemy
Death is a vandal and an intruder in God’s creation. In the beginning, when God created the world, there was no death. Death entered the world when our first parents Adam and Eve were deceived and rebelled against God. No wonder it is described as an “enemy” and indeed as the last enemy.
For he (Jesus) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Cor. 15:25-26
While death seems to hold sway now, that’s not the last word on the matter. Death will be destroyed and become a thing of distant memory.
Looking to the future, John shares this vision with God’s people:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21: 1-4
This future hope does not diminish our pain, but it sustains us as we journey with the expectation that God is with us and knows our sorrow.
Believers in the Lord Jesus have a bodily resurrection to look forward to, so they do not grieve as those without hope. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, believers will be raised from the dead; our bodies will be changed and be imperishable, never again to be subject to weakness, illness or death.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?”” – 1 Cor. 15: 54-55
And so, when we lose loved ones who walked with the Lord, we are not to “…grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thess. 4: 13-14). We grieve, but it is not a grief without hope.
Death may be an intruder and an enemy, but through Jesus, it is a defeated enemy. With the patriarch Job, we can look beyond death in hope and say:
I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end, he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27
And in all things, we remember what Abraham said to God “Will not the Judge of the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25). We entrust ourselves and our loved ones into the hands of God and trust that God in his compassion and justice will do what is right.
Seeking Christian Counseling for Grief and Loss
If you’re looking for more than just Bible verses for the passing of a loved one, consider Christian counseling. You may feel overwhelmed and need guidance in order to navigate the loss of your loved one.
Christian counseling is a resource worth considering as the counselors not only understand Biblical encouragement and support during times of loss, but they also have the skills to help you cope and to process what you’re going through as you experience the emotions of grief.
“A Grief Observed”, Courtesy of Yuris Alhumaydy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Remember”, Courtesy of Matt Botsford, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Word of God”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cross”, Courtesy of Maria Oswalt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License