Walking Families Through the Valley of the Shadow

By Evelyn Watkins

     In times of loss and sickness of a family member, families are in a space of the unknown. They are in transformation just as their loved one is undergoing a transformation of his or her own through sickness or through death. There is no time limit to this process. It’s all such a new process for everyone involved. Death is natural but the person that it happens to is always different. 

     Death will provide a different type of blow to the family and loved ones each and every time because the person who dies is different. For some, there is personal emotional security that he or she had with that person that he or she will never get back again. Everyone has lost someone who meant something to them. When you think of that, it’s not something small. It’s something that rests in your soul forever.  

     When a family suffers a loss of someone or someone is going through a sickness one goes through a host of emotions. However, the one thing one wants most is to know you will be covered by God from that moment moving forward because it’s a new way of living. One wants to have that reassurance, that hearing, that knowing, that everything will be alright no matter what. 

Psalm 91:4 states

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

One may knows that no matter the day the creator is always there. It is important for the family to hear that. Every day after that person dies the family member’s hearts’ will continue beating without the one he or she loves and the newness of that will get them to a point of change, and so the transformation will begin. The change is something that is necessary and new in order to come to terms with the reality of the situation whether it be a death or crisis of sickness. Nonetheless, it’s difficult and can be very hard. Some people in families also go through periods of shock. 

This shock is something that is real and becomes even more real on the day that he or she has to say a final goodbye to a loved one. The first person the family typically sees and hears to truly travel down this road that he or she has never been down before, which is one of lost and wonderment, is a pastor. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17| NIV states:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

     So no matter the death or sickness, everything that has happened is something God has created. Let the individuals know he or she will be okay all the same. The creator never creates just to leave you. The creator is there before the death, and the same creator is there after. He knows all the great and not so great moments of every life. The creator has been there every step of the way. Even in these moments of unbelievable, disbelief and pain.

      Never question the way and direction in which your life is guided or lived. Know that the creator watches everything. All things are taken care of before they even happen. No matter how small or how big the change is. Your heart is shattered for the moment but the light will come because life is forever growing and changing. No matter the sorrow or where it comes from, the light will always outweigh the darkness. Despite everything, you got here. You are still here and tragedy happens and strikes but know that you are here thriving. Even though it may not feel like it, it is through the strife that you make it out on the other side and you realize your spirit will always withstand the worst. 

     The worst will be over soon. Let the family know they will see their way out of this particular, very specific darkness because despite it all the way that person affected them will always live in each of them. In those times explain that this is when they will be sheltered the most.

Psalm 121:7-8 NIV states,

“The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

      So let the family members know light comes in the morning. Light comes regardless of what happens. It is important and needs to be a resounding message for the family. When death and sickness always visit it also reminds us all that we are not in control of this thing called life. The best thing that can be done is for the family to understand that faith is important and to lean on it every step of the way because everywhere you go God will always be there.

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