Death is inevitable. Each one of us will experience the loss of a loved one. No two people react the same, yet we all mourn. We all have our methods of dealing with the death of someone close. Many of us turn to the Bible and the many scriptures dealing with death and mourning—but what does the Bible say about death, exactly?
We want to discuss what the Bible teaches about death and what follows. We will also look at how best to comfort someone, which is not an easy process. So we’ll begin by looking at what the Lord Jesus Christ teaches about death and His victory over it as we go through some profound bible verses about death.
What Does the Bible Teach About Death?
The Bible has plenty of verses about death. Technically, death occurs when one comes under the judgment and condemnation of God, as Adam and Eve did when they sinned. God intended man to live eternally, but sin prevents this.
The Christian view is neatly outlined in 2 Corinthians 5:8 – “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” This bible verse is one of the most quoted about death. We will talk more about ‘life after death’ in the next section.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 also touched on this point – “And the dust returns to earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God as he gave it.” The spirit, the soul, is the real ‘you.’ The 23rd Psalm is also an explanation of death in the biblical sense.
Scripture in the holy Bible explains that those who believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is – the Son of God – are granted entrance to heaven and eternal life with the Lord God.
The New Testament also teaches that the Lord God does not want us to fear death. Instead, he wishes us to trust in the price Christ Jesus paid and know that there is a future eternal life free of sorrow, sickness, and pain.
Before we move on, a summary: Jesus Christ teaches in the New Testament teaches that ‘death is not the end.’ There are two possible futures: heaven, where those who accept God will be forever in his company, and hell, where those who reject him are destined for. In the above, we have touched on the subject of life after death, but does the Bible feature other verses about death, life after death?
Are there Scriptures About Life After Death?
The concept of life after death is a confusing one. Many people believe that we pass to another realm and continue life as such. This gives rise to the idea of ‘ghosts’ and presences and the idea that communication through mediums can allow us to contact our deceased loved ones.
The many comforting bible verses about death, specifically celebrating life after death, clearly illustrate the Christian belief in hope of a resurrection. Let’s discuss that in more detail and look at some relevant verses about death.
John 11:25 reads: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection, and I am the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live…”
We can see that Jesus Christ is talking about life after death. But we need to understand it is not in the physical sense. There is a further clue in the verse about death from Ecclesiastes quoted above – “And the dust returns to earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God as he gave it.”
In the Christian view of spiritual immortality, we need to look at the physical body as, perhaps, a shell or container for the soul. Upon death, the body will be buried (or cremated), and the spirit will return to God or – for the unfortunate – be banished to hell.
A simple summary: God created man, and we return to him after death.
The above two sections should have presented a basic idea of the Christian concept of death and life after death. Next, we want to discuss the difficult subject of the death of someone close and how best to deal with those mourning the loss of someone close.
How to Comfort Someone Who is Mourning
Dealing with losing a loved one is a difficult time for everyone involved. Some people mourn for a long time, while for others, it is easier to move on. So how can you help someone who is mourning? There are professional bodies that work with people who are grieving to help them deal with their loss. The following advice should help you understand how best to help your friend.
– Avoid giving advice to someone who is grieving. This is not the time to put any pressure on a broken heart. You mean well, yet it can add to the concern the individual is undergoing and will not help. Let them know that you recognize the weight of their loss and that you are there for them.
– Listen to the person you are trying to help. Let them know you are there to listen to them talk about their feelings but do not pressure them to do so. You cannot remove the pain and suffering they are undergoing, but you can provide comfort by hearing their woes and wiping their tears.
– We all grieve differently, so always respect the person’s way of dealing with it. There’s nothing you can do to change their method; they need to work through it their way. Your friend may experience mood swings; this is natural when dealing with a loss of this magnitude, so be prepared.
– Don’t offer ‘explanations’ for their loss. Your friend has their own view of what happened and why and does not need you adding to it. Remember, you’re there to listen.
– Offer practical help such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning – anything with which you can assist. If there are children, you can babysit, keep pets fed, and look after them. Your grieving friend may not be up to even small tasks, although some people deal with grieving by carrying on with the day-to-day rituals. If this is your friend, don’t stop them from doing so.
– Do be available for your friend in mourning and ensure you check in on them regularly. They may not wish to talk about things just yet, but knowing you are there when needed can be greatly comforting.
– Make sure they know you care. If your friend is a Christian, they may want you to read comforting verses from the Bible or sections of a favorite book., Sometimes this helps them remember their loved one in a pleasant and reassuring way.
The above should be used as guidelines for helping and caring for someone who has experienced loss. Once again, we are all individuals, so do not expect two people to react the same way.
Being there and helping is always welcome, but what should you say to your grieving friend? And more importantly, what should you not say?
What to Say and Do, and What NOT to Say and Do
A person in mourning is not the person you know and love. Instead, they have undergone a life-changing event of unprecedented magnitude, and they may react in ways you do not expect.
It is all too easy to say something you believe to be helpful, yet it has the opposite effect. You may be used to talking to them freely and without worry, but right now, you are talking to someone who is in a difficult place. The list below gives examples of helpful things to say, followed by some you should avoid.
Helpful Things to Say
– Let them know you are there for them but don’t put pressure on them. Perhaps say, ‘I am here to help in any way I can’ or similar. They will know they have someone to call on but may not be ready to discuss things.
– ‘I am sorry for your loss’ is a good opening gambit if you are seeing them for the first time since they suffered the bereavement. Don’t overdo it; just those words will do.
– Recount a memory of their loved one, but only when they begin talking about them. This can help them ease the pain as they know you care about that person too.
– Tell them you don’t know how they feel, but you are there when they need you.
– ‘I don’t have the words…’ goes hand in hand with the above and lets the grieving person know that they are important right now and reassures them you are there for them.
The idea is to let your friend know that you are around, available, and want to help. Be aware that sometimes saying nothing may be the best move – just be there and help out.
What Not to Say to Someone in Mourning
– They are in a better place and may not have the soothing reaction that you expect. It would be fine for a clergy member to say, but even if your friend is religious, they are upset with God right now as he has taken their loved one. Be careful with religious implications and assuming you know what your friend is thinking.
– Do not try and explain things. Avoid such as ‘there is a reason for everything’ and ‘God wanted her to be with Him.’ The latter we covered above – it is perhaps wise to avoid religious connotations right now.
– ‘I know how you feel’ will not go down well because, quite simply, you do not. We all react differently, so even if you have experienced loss, don’t expect another’s reaction to be the same as yours.
– ‘It’s time to move on.’ It can be frustrating when someone you love remains grieving for a long time, yet it can take years for some people to come to terms with what has happened. They will decide when it is time to return to their ‘normal’ life, not you. The adage that ‘time is a healer’ should also be avoided; we never get over grief. We simply learn to live with it.
– ‘It was her time to go’- not for your friend, so never try and justify their loss in any way.
– ‘Be strong’ may seem like a nice thing to say, but they are being as strong as they can in the circumstances.
The above is not a comprehensive list, but one that should give you a good idea of how to be careful when trying to help someone deal with grief. First, let them handle it how they want, but be there for them and understand. Finally, as mentioned above, say nothing if you are unsure what to say.
We want to return to the Bible now and look at some verses about unexpected death, which can be difficult to deal with.
Scriptures About an Unexpected Death
For many of us who experience the death of a loved one or family member, it comes after illness or with old age. We know that time is coming, and we have some opportunity to prepare for it. It does not relieve the grieving, yet it does soften the impact of the loss.
For those who experience death that was not expected, there will be a completely different set of circumstances. However, sudden death does occur, accidents can result in fatalities, and dealing with the unexpected is never easy.
One verse about death that implies the unexpected is Job 34.20 – “In a moment they die, and at midnight people are shaken and pass away. And the mighty are taken without a hand.’
Ecclesiastes 9:12 is among the most relevant verses referring to sudden death – “Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come. As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”
We could list many more verses that refer to unexpected death. When reading the Bible, it fast becomes clear that death is a central part of the Christian belief system.
Have you lost a loved one recently? You may take comfort in some of the most relevant biblical verses, so let’s look at other ways you can help comfort yourself while grieving.
How to Comfort Yourself
So far, we have discussed wa and how you can help others in their time of need. However, it may be that you are the one who is grieving. The following are some things that people do to try and ease their grief. It’s important to remember that each of us reacts differently to grief, so some of the following may not appeal to you.
– Spending time with friends and family is an important part of the grieving process. However, people may find it difficult to call you because they want to leave you to grieve alone, so while it may be hard, make a call or text someone and arrange to meet.
– Do not cut the bonds with the person you have lost; they are still part of your life and always will be. Don’t feel foolish talking to them, especially since you used to converse a lot.
– Do what your body tells you, which means sleeping, crying, or talking. You need to follow your natural emotions at this difficult time. You have what is known as a broken heart.
– Don’t expect too much of yourself. You are grieving, and it is a time when you may be unable to operate to your usual standards. Let others help and take a step back for a while.
– If keeping yourself busy helps, then do it. But try not to overdo things, as it could just be masking your grief.
– Keep a journal and write down thoughts, memories, and anything in your head. Reading it back later may inspire good thoughts.
– Try and do what you enjoy;d if that means shopping, let it be. Many grieving people find a massage is a help, so book yourself a pamper day with a friend.
– Do your best to remain healthy, as this can be difficult in such times. Exercise if you can, go for walks, and make sure you eat as best you can.
These are just some ideas that should help you with the grieving and mourning process, and there are others that you can research. Most of all, don’t become a recluse; being alone in grief can be the worst thing for some people.
Why are They That Mourn Blessed?
The famous words ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ were relayed by Jesus Christ to his disciples. But what do these words mean?
Jesus was telling his disciples that they would be blessed when they suffered. He is connecting blessing and suffering as similar. However, Jesus is not telling us that we will be blessed when we mourn a lost loved one. In fact, he is looking deeper.
We return to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and the Forbidden Fruit – the Original Sin. It was from this very act that death evolved. Jesus wants us to mourn our sins. When we meet Him, he will know how broken and sinful each of us is. However, we will be blessed when we begin to mourn our sins.
Jesus loves us despite our sins, and by mourning, we will slowly be accepted into the arms of God: he will forgive us and accept us despite our sins. This is at the very core of Christian belief.
Which Messages, Scriptures, and Songs are Best for Funerals?
A funeral is a celebration of the deceased’s physical life: a sad occasion, yet one where we remember them and their life on earth. The body may be buried or created, but the soul will pass over to heaven.
Psalm 23 – ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ – is of widespread use at funerals. Most learn it in school and carry it with them for life. Psalm 27 – ‘The Lord is My Light’ – is also popular and relevant.
John 14:1-3 –’Do Not Let Your Hearts be Troubled’ – is a beautiful message of comfort that is befitting of funerals.
As for songs, your loved one may have had a favorite song or piece of music that is appropriate for the occasion, and the family may wish to choose their most loved hymns.
Finally, as for the right message at a funeral, remember it is a time when we look back on the life of the deceased and also wish them a happy passing into the arms of God.
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