You live long enough and you will encounter grief. You may not endure the tragedy of losing a family member, although most will. But you will lose something. You may move and lose the familiar, friends, and all your favorite stores and hang outs. You may lose function, independence, dreams, self-esteem, or self-respect. You may lose a beloved pet, car, or home. Or, you may indeed endure the loss of a life through miscarriage, or death of a friend or loved one.
Even as Christians, sometimes we do not know how to handle loss. We often quote the scripture, "we do not grieve as those who have no hope." This is true, but we still grieve. I'm so thankful the shortest verse in the Bible couldn't be clearer. "Jesus wept." Not much room for interpretation here. Pretty simple. Always struck me odd, Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. But he still took time to grieve His loss. He did not stuff it, deny it, minimize it, hide it, or try to be strong for those around Him. He grieved. He wept.
In pondering what to include in this article I thought of several focus areas. I thought I could include scripture references for the 5 fluid stages of grief we hear so much about: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I though about simple do's and don'ts on how to approach the grieving. However, writing from the perspective of someone who is grieving to those who may be grieving I thought it might be most helpful to consider some practical suggestions. So here are 4 simple things to consider.
- Care for your physical needs (I King 19)
Elijah lost purpose in life, hit a dark depression and became suicidal. The Lord did not try to cheer him up, He strengthened him physically with food, water, and rest. He told him the journey is too much for you. Minimize the chemicals you introduce to your body. Increase nutrition and balance your rest and exercise.
- Connect with healthy people (2 Cor 7:6)
Paul was at a place of conflict inside and out. God comforted the cast down and sent Titus. He sent a person: not a phrase or platitude. Someone to pass a tissue, not advice. Resist isolation. You were not meant to carry deep grief alone.
- Accept (II Cor 10:12)
a) Give grace to each other. It's not wise to compare. Accept differences in grief. Your spouse will handle the same loss differently. Some will be easily angered. Some will be easily tearful. Some quiet, some verbose. Just allow each other to be.
b) Give grace to yourself. Accept your own grief. Sure, we celebrate a believer's life but their absence is a loss. If the Lord did not intend for us to cry He would not have made us with tear ducts. Don't fight it. Grief is like a wave. If you try to fight it, it will overtake you. Just go with it. It will pass, but it will also ambush you out of no where. Expect the ambush.
c). Accept where you are in the process. No one says you "should be over it by now."
- Pursue refuge in the Lord. (Job 40:6)
Lord spoke to Job out of the Storm
John 16:19, Jesus was telling of his death and resurrection. They began asking each other to try to make sense of it. Jesus saw they wanted to ask him about this so He invited the conversation.
· Jesus knows you have questions.
· He knows it doesn't make sense to you
· He knows how you feel before you express it
· So tell Him, ask Him, talk to Him.
In Job Ch 3, Job asks many questions, he even asks why the Lord created him as his grief was unbearable.
At times our grief does seem unbearable. This leads me to my other favorite Biblical phrase, "And it came to pass.."