1 Thessalonians 4:13-18(NIV)
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
In rereading verse 13, something struck me: "we do not want you to...grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope." The first time I read it, I took it to mean that we as Christians have hope in the face of death. That's great, but then I realized something else: it doesn't say that we will not or should not grieve. Just that our grieving will not/should not be like unbelievers' grieving. What a relief--God's grace to us covers every part of our lives-- even our emotions. I feel like He's telling me, "Go ahead, feel sad, that's okay...but understand this:Vivi is with Me; she's not gone forever." That's where the hope comes in. Vivi and her family will be reunited. They are separated now, and it's painful beyond comprehension, but they will be together with the Lord forever.
The other thing that helps--and I've always heard this from people who are grieving--is the children in your life. When Maria called to tell me that Vivi had died, I was at the top of the stairs and I sat down right there and had a big cry. Katie rushed to me and stayed right beside me throughout the phone call, stroking my arm and my hair. She put my head on her little tiny shoulder and patted my back. She took my face in her hands and said, "Mommy, I'll be right back. It's okay, I'll be right back." When she came back, she brought a teddy bear and Kleenex. This is a memory I will treasure forever.