Q: I don’t understand our neighbor. He and his wife never got along; we were surprised they even stayed together. But she died about a year ago, and he’s still having a hard time. He even visits her grave almost every day. Why is he so grief-stricken? — S.R.
A: Only he could answer this, of course, although even he may not fully realize why he has been so overwhelmed by the loss of his wife, in spite of their problems.
One reason, however, is surely regret — regret that their life together wasn’t happier, and regret that they didn’t do more to overcome their differences. Perhaps he never thought about the fact that someday death would intervene, and then it would be too late to find happiness. Death is final, and once it intrudes there is no going back. The Bible warns, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
But I can’t help but wonder if your neighbor is also overwhelmed by despair — despair that he will never see his wife again. Elsewhere in your letter you indicate that he and his wife had no interest in God or eternity. How tragic it is to go through life “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12)!
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Pray for your neighbor, and ask God to help you be a true friend to him. No, the past can’t be changed, but the future can be, with God’s help. Christ knows all about his hurts, and he loves him and wants to give him lasting peace. Jesus’ promise is true: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or visit www.billygraham.org.