Grief is normal and we will all go through it at some time. It doesn’t make sense or have a set time to go through it.
Isaiah 53:3-4 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
The Lord understands grief and how to help us go through it.
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
There are different kinds of grief: death of family or friends, illness, divorce, job loss or change. Children can experience grief in moving to a new location or when things change that they feel is like a loss. Grief depends on how old you are, how many children you have, and on other things that are going on in your life. There are common feelings in grief, including: denial, disbelief, confusion, anger, humiliation, despair, guilt, worry. We have the feelings, it’s normal, and it’s good to let them finish or process through them. If we try to cover them up and not process them, they’ll come to the surface later. They can later even appear in behavior like road rage. Some people cover up their grief with alcohol or illegal drugs. Our culture tries to resolve grief through medicine, but many times that isn’t helpful to our emotional health. Our society doesn’t approve of showing sadness. We hear “cheer up” or “get over it” but we need to go through it.
There’s a difference between mourning (a service or gathering to share a loss) and grief. Grief is the expression of loss that people feel emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Unresolved grief can result in worse grief. It can result in obsession, like constantly calling/texting someone or other obsessive and disturbing behavior. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a psychiatrist who said in 1969 that there are five stages of grief. Today we recognize those plus two more as common stages of grief that everyone goes through.
- Shock: usually the first most powerful stage, the initial paralysis to protect you from falling apart
- Denial: includes feeling meaningless and numb
- Anger: Our culture says we’re not supposed to feel anger, but Jesus turned over the money changers tables (John 2:14-17). Being angry isn’t being obnoxious, hurtful, or carnal. Anger can make you feel you’re doing something about grief.
- Bargaining: Feelings of “what if” and “if only I had” give a break from other You feel you’re doing something.
- Depression: This isn’t related to mental illness but is a natural consequence of feeling sad because we love someone.
Psalm 143:4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
- Testing: We seek for solutions to deal with the grief in this stage.
- Acceptance: We realize what happened is permanent and the new normal.
We may go through stages of grief in any order and may repeat some stages more than once. The intensity of grief is related to how strong our attachment is and how it changes our attachment. It’s ok to feel the emotions and it’s healthy for us emotionally to let them finish. They may be like a wave of the sea that goes up, crests, and then crashes. Sorrow is better because we go through it and let it finish, then the heart is made better.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Tips to help those grieving:
- Let go of time expectations
- Recognize stages with compassion
- Realize there are variable to stages
- Resist telling someone how strong they are
- Offer ways to memorialize and let them express their memories
- Check in on them kindly
Don’t be impatient in going through grief but hang on and wait on the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Turn to God for the hope and strength to go through grief.
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
Cry to God when your heart feels in despair or overwhelmed by grief.
Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Jesus was sent to bind up and heal our heart when it is broken and grieved.
Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Helene Goble)