‘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.