When You Lose Someone You Love by Richard Exley

December 28, 2009 | By | Add a Comment

And now, more than ever, you need the ministry of comfort. Not covered dishes and sympathy cards, but a safe place with a safe person, somewhere you can grieve without being rebuked or misunderstood. You need someone who will let you be real, someone who will let you weep or rage as the case may be, someone who won’t try to explain the unexplainable, or fix everything with a prayer.

When you lose someone you love, p. 31

Synopsis: Richard Exley writes this book as a series of fictional letters to a grieving person given the name “David”.  David is a composite of persons Exley worked with as a Pastor and what is written to him could easily be applied to either gender.  The book is small (128 pages) and is specifically focused on grieving the death of a loved one. This 20th anniversary edition features prayers and scripture meditation, as well as a new introduction and epilogue. The book as well as this review are written from a Christian perspective.

Positives: Exley writes with tenderness and compassion. He does not pretend to have all the answers, but aims to give words of comfort to those who grieve and let them that they are not alone and have not been forsaken. The message is that God’s love runs deeper than the pain they are experiencing and there is a reason and purpose for what they are going though – however unclear it may be.  He writes with detachment, but also as one who has experienced his own share of loss. The scriptures and prayers were excellent and it is not too heavy of a read.

Negatives: In one part of the book, Exley mentions that the grieving process can take up to two years. In another place, he mentions that it can take 2 to 3 years. In a third place, he mentions that it can take at least 2 years. Rather than putting a time frame on this kind of thing, it may have been more helpful to mention that it often takes a very long time to grieve – usually longer than you might expect. It might even linger for a lifetime. Also, Exley includes a chapter on what a comfort it is to know that a loved one has gone on to be with the Lord. He provides no coverage for deaths where the loved one might not have gone on to be with the Lord (though this is indirectly covered in sections alluding to the sovereignty of God).

Summary: As believers in the resurrected Christ, we have comfort in knowing that the grave does not have the final word. The night is full of darkness, but death has been swallowed up in victory. Mourning will give way to a new and better morning and there will be no more sorrow, loss or pain. In the meantime, God is with us in the midst of overwhelming grief. Sometimes he holds us by our right hand. Other times, it is a full embrace.

This is a good book, but it is just a start. Don’t expect someone reading this to feel good all of a sudden. Also, other books go over topics covered here in much greater detail. This would make for a thoughtful gift and is also a good resource for those who want to know how they can be helpful to others who suffer (that is, the human race).

Rating: 4/5 (Good guidance, but probably not enough for more severe losses.)

This book was provided for review by David C. Cook. To learn more about this book, or purchase from Amazon, click here.

“For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.”

– Isaiah 41:13

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