No one escapes pain, and loss is inevitable.

I first discovered this personally when I watched my baby brother die from a genetic defect that was "incompatible with life." Though whole on the outside, his inner workings were irreparably different from what people need to survive. I was 8 years old, wide-eyed, and confused. I hope that his 3-day-old suffering was small. But I know that our family's was great. The helplessness, resignation, and wrongness of that loss hurt.

Afterwards, I saw from my second-grade perspective the various responses of our church to my family's difficult time. We were new to the faith. I watched my parents mourn and receive comfort from people that we worshipped with on Sundays. Some of them were wonderful, silent. They suffered with us. Others had no clue what to do, other than share awkward platitudes or even trying to change the subject to something other than the little bundle lying just out of sight.

Since then, I've been around ...

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