I have over the last year or so started to go back and read Luther and also what others say about Luther. I have a hard time expressing how Luther and Paul as you read and study them over take you with their intuitive knowledge of the human situation and the divine intervention into the situation. Luther is not only a theologian, he could have been a pshychiatrist, a social worker. He was a marvelous writer and preacher. Luther also had tact believe it or not. Some of the things that Luther says make me blush and I am not easily “blushable” but he also gets the nuances of dealing with hurting people. When dealing with someone who is grieving, writing a letter could be a disaster of great proportion. We are told that face to face is always better when consoling, and yet Luther’s letters seem to be extremely effective and helpful. There are a lot of people who study Luther and what he says, especially his advice on grieving. One of them suggests several persistent themes in the reformer’s pastoral letters:
God, who knows better than we do, has taken the loved one;
God created us as feeling, loving creatures, who will naturally grieve over loss;
God, Christ and the Word are the best consolers;
A faithful death is better than a miserable life;
There is a need for moderation in grief.1
1 Neil Leroux, Martin Luther as Comforter. Writings on Death (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 183-84, 188.