When Mary saw Jesus,
she knelt at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping,
and the Jews who came with her also weeping,
he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus began to weep. (John 11:32-35)

Our own Lord and Savior, Jesus, wept when his friend Lazarus died. We grieve when people die because we are made in the image of God, and God grieves, too. Tears at the death of a loved one, or even a stranger, are holy. They are God’s gift and a reflection of God’s life within us.

Sometimes we tell our loved ones, “Don’t be sad when I die.” There is good intention behind these words. We love our family and friends, and we hate to see them sad or hurting. Most of us spend our lives trying to make sure those closest to us are protected from hurt, pain, and sorrow. But, telling them not to be sad is not realistic. It may even place a burden on those we leave behind. Because, of course, we are going to be sad. When they are gone, we cannot touch them, talk to them, share stories or experiences. Even when most of our memories are good ones, it still hurts.

Rev. Andrew Gerns, a hospice chaplain, says, “We are wired to grieve because we are built to love. The challenge is how to make meaning and memories out of our past relationships and add to our capacity to love.”

When your loved ones die, cry. Honor the Divine image living within you. And gives thanks that God’s capacity to love lives in you, too.

Prayer: Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace. Give us tears to grieve and send us your peace that we may live in joyful communion with them until we join with the saints of every people and nation gathered together in your eternal home, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.