Coping With Grief
Colin Lacey, Bath, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
'An odd by-product of my loss is that I'm aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet . . . I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they'll 'say something about it' or not . . . Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements', C. S. Lewis, 'A Grief Observed'.
- The difficult process through which we go to help us recover and move on from the many losses we experience in life;
- No respecter of persons;
- Something we don't fully understand until we pass through it;
- Unique to the person involved;
- A hurt that wounds the heart like no other hurt;
- Something that exposes our vulnerability – it forces a door open into the deep parts of our soul;
- Something that others find awkward and uncomfortable to deal with and not knowing what to say often end up saying inappropriate things.
Some reasons for our grief:
- Broken relationships – Abram with Hagar and Ishmael, Gen. 21. 11;
- The loss of health, wealth or family – Job's experience, Job 2. 13;
- Anguish and anger at the actions of others – Nehemiah regarding Eliashib's harbouring of Tobiah, Neh. 13. 4, 8;
- Our own sinful actions that hurt others – Joseph's brothers, Gen. 45. 5;
- Deep, unfulfilled desire - Hannah's longing for a son – 1 Sam. 1. 16;
- The demands made on us by others – the rich young ruler on account of the Lord's words, Mark 10. 22;
- Anger at God's actions – Jonah on account of the salvation of Nineveh, Jonah 4. 1, 6;
- Death of a loved one – many but look up Abraham, Gen. 23. 2; and David, 2 Sam. 19. 2.
Unbeliever's response to our grief:
- Look on the bright side; keep a smile on your face; drown your sorrows; lose yourself in getting out more; things will get better; it won't last long.
Some believers inept responses to the grief of others:
- Christians should not grieve; I am surprised how badly they took her passing; it's not a good testimony to get so upset; pull yourself together; you'll get over it, we all do.
The stages a grieving person may go through:
- Shock; numbness; denial - it's not real; aggrieved at a sense of 'being deserted';
- Anger, - 'Why me?', 'Does God not care?'; guilt feelings – 'It was my fault’, 'If only I had . . .'; loneliness; painful memories; depression and despondency; release of grief through emotional floods of tears - the earlier the better for recovery; recovery – we do not forget but we do move on.
Coping with Our Grief
Accept that Christians are not immune to grief:
- God does not protect us from experiencing pain, loss or grief;
- You do not need to feel ashamed or guilty about grief – people more spiritual than you still grieve;
- There is a distinction between believers who grieve and those who grieve 'as others that have no hope’, 1 Thess. 4. 13; there is sorrow but not despair.
Recognise that we have a God who understands grief.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Colin Lacey is a retired secondary school headteacher. He travels extensively throughout the UK teaching the word of God. He has contributed to several Day by Day publications and has also written the commentaries on Judges, Nehemiah and 1 & 2 Kings for the What the Bible Teaches series published by John Ritchie Ltd.