Coping With Loss – The Deep Hurt Only God Can Heal 

bradley-shotts

By Bradley Shotts 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 

Sometimes in life the wheels of the bus that go round and round come flying off. We have all been there. 

I think about different families that I have served over the past 30 years. So many stories and images in my mind that will forever be there. More times than I can count, I remember looking across the table at families who are facing such tremendous loss, thinking, “How in the world are you coping with this tragedy?” 

Then I am reminded… It is only by God’s love, tender mercy and grace. 

Funeral directors and first responders all have that one call that they never forget. I have so many families that I will always remember and hold close to my heart, but there was one call in the spring of 2000 that I will never forget. 

We were called to respond to a car accident. Upon arrival, the urgency of the call quickly escalated when the victim in the car was identified. Law enforcement on the scene turned to us and said, “This is my lieutenant’s 16-year-old daughter!” The officers then turned to see that the lieutenant, completely unaware, was pulling up to the scene about 50 yards away. Five officers quickly made their way to his vehicle. I do not know what they said to him, but in less than 30 seconds they had him in a vehicle and he was being driven away. At that moment, we all just stood there out of respect to him, pausing. None of us were verbal, but I know everyone of us were saying prayers for this father. 

I knew that I would be the [funeral] director to meet with him. I also knew what his first statement to me was going to be. He came in that afternoon to meet with me and I was not wrong in predicting what he was going to say. The first thing he said was, “I want to see my daughter.” I had already prayed for God to give me the right words to say in preparation. As long as I live, I will never be able to not see the look in his eyes and the look on his face as I gently explained that seeing his daughter was not something he needed to do. This father, who towered over my six-foot one-inch frame, began to cry uncontrollably. At that moment, I no longer cared about holding it together and joined him in his grief. There are no words for moments like this; you just remain silent and pray for God to bring comfort like only He can. 

Over the next several days there were many moments of pause, grief and prayers as I helped this mom and dad do the one thing that they never thought that they would ever have to do. 

The night we held her visitation at the funeral home, the last person walked by her closed casket to pay their respects around 10:45 p.m. You can imagine the love and support that came from her high school and all departments of law enforcement throughout the state. 

Everyone had left the building and I was locking up. As I stood outside and was turning the key to lock the door, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. I could feel that someone was standing somewhere behind me. I slowly turned around. There were only two cars remaining parked close to the building. Mine and the lieutenant’s. My eyes moved away from the vehicles and there he was, his tall frame shadowed in the darkness. He began to walk closer to me and I noticed that he was carrying something in his arms. 

He made his way over to me, now standing in the light where I could see. I looked up at him and he had tears running down his cheeks. He held a blanket in his arms and my eyes immediately began to tear up as well. He looked at me and said, “Even though my daughter was 16 years old, I still tucked her in bed every night. Since I cannot do that tonight, I was wondering if you would do this for me?” Somehow, I found a voice to assure him that I would be honored to do so. He thanked me and turned and walked to his vehicle. I then returned inside the funeral home to do what I had promised. 

I know from studying God’s Word that when we hurt and grieve, God hurts and grieves. Sometimes the pain is so great it is only God that can bring comfort. In Philippians 4:7 it talks about His peace that surpasses all understanding, that guards the hearts and minds of those who trust in Him and pray to Him. We also find in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 

May you find peace and rest in your heart and mind, knowing that as you trust in God, no matter what you are facing, He is faithful and just and He will see you through to the other side. 

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, a world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 

 

Bradley Shotts began his ministry in the funeral industry in 1988 at Lloyd James Funeral Home in Tyler, Texas. He currently serves as a director at Slay Memorial Funeral Center, Aubrey, Texas. He and his wife, Amy, live in Bedford. They have two adult children, Blaine and Braylee, and one grandson, Matthew Bradley. Shotts is a member of Rotary International and enjoys serving in his community. As God directs, he enjoys singing and speaking. He is an ordained minister and loves being used of God. 

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