I enjoyed a short children's book entitled, "It's Alright to Cry." In the story, a little boy fell down and hurt his knee. It made him feel bad. His Mom said, "It's alright to cry." And then he played too hard and broke his truck, the best toy he had. Mom said again, "It's alright to cry." At school he lost his green jacket and thought his Mom would be mad. But Mom said, "It's alright to cry." The little boy wanted to play with the big boys, but they said "no." He said that he was glad and didn't really want to play with them anyway. But he really did. Mom said, "It's alright to cry." He fed his fish too much food, and they died. He felt really sad. Mom said, "It's alright to cry." Then the time arrived for him to spend the summer with his grandma. He thought, "Mom will miss me." She hugged him really hard. And he responded, "Mom, it's alright to cry." (Robin Holland)

This touching little story offers good advice even for adults. You may remember the shortest verse in the English Bible. "Jesus wept." (John 11:35) He did this out of compassion for the bereaved at the death of Lazarus. According to the account Jesus later raised Lazarus from the dead.

In our own experience there may be times when we wish to comfort those who have lost a loved one or who are bereaved because of some other circumstance. It's common to feel anxious about attempting to comfort others. "What should I say? How can I offer the right words of hope? What if I say the wrong thing and make the family feel worse?" One often can't figure out what to say. My practice and that of other pastors is to pray silently before visiting the family, remembering their loss, and asking for God's guidance in the visit. Sometimes the best thing one can do is to say very little, but simply to be present with the bereaved, holding them in your heart, and perhaps shedding a tear. It's alright to cry.