Summer is a fun time for families. There are visits and visiting, playing at the splash park, going to the beach, vacation Bible school and many other activities to keep the body and mind busy. It is good when the mind is busy, and if you are like me, your mind may be far too busy. Most of us do not like to think about, much less talk about our grief, but the reality is that we all have loss, and we all grieve. We also carry that grief with us to work, school and the marketplace even when we may not realize it.
For ten years I worked with those who are dying and with the aftermath of the grief from their families. One of the tendencies that I have observed through the years is how we try to escape the grief that is in our life following the death of a loved one or friend. It seems if we can just push through and not think about the death and the pain and the memories, somehow, we will be okay. Or we might think as a Christ follower that we need to be tough. After all, our loved one was born-again, and they are with Jesus and are in a much better place, and Paul did say that we should not grieve as those who have no hope, so we soldier on.
Grief in the Bible
Paul did say that we should not grieve as those who have no hope, but Paul did not say that we should not grieve. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. King David was broken at the loss of his son. Job lost ten children, and forty-two chapters of Job are dedicated to his discovering who God is through the pain of his grief. His wife has gotten a very bad rap through the centuries because she said, “Curse God and die.” Job’s readers forget she was also in deep grief. Can you imagine the grief of Adam and Eve at the loss of their son, knowing it was their sin that was the impetus of that death? Then there is Mary at the foot of the cross, watching, waiting, wondering, and then the grief.
When we have had the blessing to love deeply, we will grieve deeply. Grief is real, grief is painful, grief is unrelenting! In the first few days, you feel like you can’t think, and your mind is dull. You wish that people would not speak to you. Those first few days are a blur that you may scarcely remember. During the first week or two, you are surrounded by love and help, then suddenly like the death of your loved one – everyone is gone, back to their home, their happy life, their routines, and you are left to grieve, as you now dance alone.
Grief is as old as sin. It started when the first couple hid from God in the cool of the evening. They grieved the loss of their innocence, their pain overwhelming. The scriptures tell us that God is near to the broken hearted. Paul lets us know that God is also the God of all comfort who comforts us. God knows that we grieve. He cares and never leaves us alone. He is an ever-present help in time of trouble.
When you have lost someone you love, rather than retreating and staying alone, seek out help. You need to verbalize your grief to others. Seek out a friend who is willing to listen without the need to tell you how to grieve. If you do not have that person, find and join a grief group.
Unfortunately, our society has taught us at work that we have three or four days to grieve and then our company paid grief time is over. In three to four days, we are only beginning to grieve and our pain is so difficult. When you do return to work, school or the marketplace, let those around you know how to help you grieve. People tend to say things like, “How are you doing?” They already know you are in deep grief, but they do not know what to say. Letting others know how to help you will give them something tangible to do rather than saying something hurtful or avoiding you because they do not know what to say or do. Moving back into what was a normal, everyday situation after a loss is difficult. If someone is willing to be a good listener, share your story. Share your story again and again because the more you can talk the better the healing.
Because talking through your grief is helpful, you might find that a grief care group is beneficial. There you will gain the understanding that others are on the same grief journey and there is strength in being with others who are grieving, and the normalization of realizing you are not alone. Take time to spend in prayer even if only a prayer under your breath. The Scriptures will be a consistent source of comfort and help. Grief is not easy, has never been easy, and will never be easy. You can make it through, you will arrive at a new destination of normal. Your new normal will not be like the old. You will be changed; you will laugh again. Go easy on yourself through all the changes, as grief is a process and takes time, and remember that even in the hard times of life that God loves you.
Kevin Stowe, DMin is an Adjunct Professor at Trinity International University, Florida. Visit tiu.edu/florida
Check out this article for more on dealing with grief: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/surviving_grief_from_desperation_to_healing/