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Those who mourn shall be comforted

It is so hard when we lose someone we love.

One behind-the-scenes task I take care of each week for the paper is formatting the obituaries and short notices that are sent to us for print. Of course, by and large these are published exactly as they are submitted, but they usually need just a little proofreading and stylistic smoothing out to prepare them for the page.

I perform the same job for one of our sister papers.

With this as one of my responsibilities, I spend a lot of time each week reflecting on those who have recently passed.

I read about their lives, their loves. I get a small insight into their careers, their hobbies, their achievements and what they meant to the people in their lives, those who will miss them so dearly.

To tell you the truth, I have found it helpful to try to stay a little detached during this process.

Even though the names on the obituary page are often people I don’t know, have never met and now certainly never will, I can nevertheless feel the heartbreak each time, the pain of the family having to say farewell to someone who has meant so much to them.

To me it’s particularly touching and troubling, as I’m sure it is to many, when the obituary is for an especially young person. I’ve edited obituaries for young mothers leaving behind their husband and children, for middle-aged men who are survived by both their parents, for teens whose lives have really just begun and for babies and children, who barely tasted life before tasting death.

It’s hard to swallow sometimes.

Our entire community, it seemed, was bathed in grief this week with the passing of Tange Oliver and the Shoals’ Sgt. Nick Risner. Two very different deaths, in many ways, although in the end not so different: two souls taken from this world and continuing into eternity.

I want to extend my own feelings of sympathy to these two families and to all those who are feeling their loss deeply.

When we lose someone, they leave hole in our lives – the hole they used to fill.

The Bible says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” In my own experience with grief, that comfort can’t always be felt right away, but we can only hope those who are grieving can feel both the support from those around them as well as the tender hand of a loving God.

It’s painful to love and lose, and only by being there for each other can we begin to overcome the grief and be blessed with comfort in our day of mourning.