Grieving is one of those things that nobody really wants to be good at. Because if you are good at grieving, it means that you’ve gone through some loss in your life. I am NOT a “grief expert.” I have, however grieved enough in my life to have learned how to do it fairly well. I have walked with friends through losses and seen grief that is effective and grief that is not.
This is NOT an article on the psychological stages of grief. This is instead, if you will, some loving advice from a heart that has grieved and healed (and is still healing) and learned. This is encouragement from my heart to yours to help you heal, grow, and draw closer to your Father’s heart in the midst of sorrow.
God is near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18) and He is the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles” (Corinth 1:3b-4a)
Jesus bore our grief on the cross just like he bore our sin. We are not alone in our grief and we have a kind and compassionate Savior to walk with us through it.
Isaiah 53:4a AMPC
Surely He has borne our griefs (sickness, weakness, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment]…
Anything that YOU deem as a loss in your life probably deserves some level of grief be it a pet, a job, a loved one, or a relationship.
Failure to grieve properly usually leads to failure to heal properly.
1. Grief is a journey, not a destination
One of the major mistakes I see in grieving is that people allow grief to turn into their permanent place of residence instead of something that they walk through.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
The valley is a place we move through NOT our new home. We cannot set up camp and stay there forever if we are to accomplish all that God has for us.
2. Don’t ask “why?”
I know, this is SO hard. We instinctively want to know why something happened, if we could have done something better, if we missed God somewhere. What someone else “did wrong”. I am not saying that you can never ask God to lead you into truth and answer these kinds of questions, but you should NOT do it right after a loss. We simply do not have the perspective to hear correctly.
When I was 19 my best friend died. Michael had battled cancer for several years. He was a believer as was/is his whole family, and were all praying for his healing. After he died, I asked God “why” repeatedly, but I did not hear an answer for a long time.
Finally, when I was healed enough to have God’s perspective, He answered.
3. Give yourself time and space to grieve as close to the loss as possible
Very often there are one or two family members that have to step up and just take care of practical things. They often cannot allow themselves to sit and weep while everyone else does. For these people, its often too easy to just keep pushing through because they’ve had to during the initial shock. But here’s the thing: you WILL grieve eventually. Unresolved grief comes out whether you want it to or not, but it will often show up much more severely.
4. We were not designed for loss
Think about it, Adam and Eve were literally created to live forever in perfect unity with their creator. God has set eternity in the hearts of men. (Eccl 3:11) Death is NOT natural and it’s NOT supposed to feel natural. Deep down, in the core of our being, we know that death is not part of God’s original design for humanity. It’s ok to feel like death is wrong, because it is.
5. Express your emotions in a healthy way
Talking about the loss to a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor is hugely beneficial. I am a HUGE proponent of getting biblically based counseling. Journaling is also very beneficial. Sometimes just getting your feeling written out on paper helps to make sense of them. Talk about the person that you lost. Forgetting them is not healing, it is burying.
Be prepared, people are going to say the wrong thing. Try not to be mad at them. Most people I know are uncomfortable around grief. They don’t know what to say or do. Give yourself grace, and give others grace as well. Just don’t be afraid to talk about what you are feeling.
6. Do NOT form new theology
Seriously, some of the very worst and most erroneous theology comes from seasons of grief. God did NOT “take them because He needed another angel”. Jesus came to bring life and life abundantly to the full till it overflows. The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10)
7. Stick with the basics and the foundations of your faith
The last time I grieved hard, I remember just feeling so uninspired to read or study “new” topics. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to just stick with the basics, the foundational things and it helped SO much. I focused on truths like God is good, God loves me, God is faithful. I spent extra time in Psalms.
It’s okay to not be okay.
You don’t have to keep it all together all the time. When a trusted friend reaches out and asks how you are doing, be honest.
It gets easier IF you heal.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that things will be “normal” again. Depending on the loss, they might not be.
You may have to find a new normal
God loves you and longs to comfort you, to lead you into healing, to restore you soul.