I recently traveled out of town to go to a funeral. The person who passed on was a close family friend of mine. It was a family member of my best friend. Her family and mine have become very close over the years. Not blood relative or anything but one of those people you’ve adopted into your family as your own. As I drove the 9 hours to the funeral I had a lot of time to think about the loss. I was very nervous about going. I knew those who would greet me would be looking for answers. I didn’t have answers. This was a sudden unexpected death. At times like this only God has the answers.
The closer I got to my destination the heavier my heart became. How could I respond? What am I to say? I’ll point them to God but they’ll want more. They will want a tangible response and I will not have it. I began to pray asking God for the words to say. How could I approach my best friend who is hurting more than I am and not have a single word to say. While I didn’t have a clear cut sign or audible response from God I felt the phrase “say nothing.” Say nothing? That’s what you’re giving me God, nothing? I continued to drive and continued to pray. I kept getting the same response “Show up, say nothing.”
I arrived at the funeral about 30 minutes early. The church was packed, not a single seat. People were being asked to stand in the halls. As I took my place in the hall I wondered what I could offer that the other hundreds of people in this church hadn’t already. It was at that point that one of the family members spotted me. He approached me with tears pouring and embraced me in a huge hug. What did he say “Thanks for showing up!” I responded with nothing. I let him cry on my shoulder. Soon other family members noticed me and motioned for me to come to the front of the church and see them. Not being a blood relative I was hesitant but I again heard “show up, say nothing.” I was soon embraced with many hugs and tears. No words, just love. Finally my best friend spots me and comes running. She ran down the center of the church and crashes into me with the biggest hug. Her tears were like a river. Still we had exchanged no words.
I spent most of the day with the grieving family. We did eventually exchange words and have actual conversations but there were not questions. There was not a push for answers. It was just about us comforting each other. Over and over my friend repeated to me “Thank you for being here. That’s what I really needed.”
I feel like God was teaching me a valuable lesson in this situation. It wasn’t about me having the answers. It wasn’t about the perfect words or responses. It was all about showing up and being there for friends and family. Show up…….say nothing.