Coping With Grief

‘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’.

Grief is:

  • 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.

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