Grief and Loss Recovery
Some societies are much healthier when it comes to grieving. The Dani people in Irian Jaya, for example, says former missionary Elise Wight, weep and wail openly for several days when a loved one dies. We, too, need to weep out our pain. It is absolutely essential for healing. As Jesus taught, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."4 Only as we mourn our loss do we find comfort.
Third, accept feelings of loneliness, fear of being alone, and a sense of hopelessness as normal following the loss of a loved one. What is there left to live for? some feel. Forcing yourself to stay involved in former activities you enjoyed and going out and mixing with friends as soon as possible is very important. Equally important is to join a support group—with others who are also suffering loss. None of us can make it alone. We all need the support of loving, understanding friends, especially during times of grief and sadness. As the Bible teaches us, "Bear … one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."5
Fourth, there may also be feelings of guilt, especially if there has been a suicide or some kind of preventable accident. Why didn't I do more for her/him? If only I'd been more understanding. It's my fault? All are thoughts that can haunt.
I talked with one man whose wife committed suicide six months earlier. This man felt he was to blame. Like all of us, I'm sure he could have done some things differently, but he wasn't responsible for his wife's action. Suicide was her choice. His guilt was false. He may need professional counseling to help him see and resolve this.
Fifth, another common emotion in grief is anger. We may feel angry at the person for leaving us, or at our boss for firing us, or at God for allowing our loss to happen. Anger can be difficult to admit, especially when directed at someone we loved very much—or at God! If there is anger, it is essential to acknowledge and express it in healthy ways. If it's repressed, full recovery isn't possible and can lead to depression and/or physical sickness.
Give yourself permission to cry.
It is one way of draining the
pain of sorrow and loss.
I read about one woman whose two sisters died tragically. She announced to the rest of the family, "There is no God. I don't believe in Him anymore." This woman was understandably angry at God, but instead of telling Him how she felt, she rejected Him. God doesn't get upset when we are angry at Him. He knows it anyhow and He understands. The healthy thing to do is to tell Him how we feel so we can resolve these feelings. Otherwise we will stuff them and become physically ill, depressed, bored, withdrawn, or take out our hurt on others.
In Psalm 109 David expressed his angry feelings to the Lord against those who were accusing him falsely. He prayed, "O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause."6 And then he poured out the bitter feelings he held toward these people, after which he prayed, "Help me, O LORD my God; save me in accordance with your love."7 It can be very helpful for us to do the same.
Finally, give yourself time to heal. After accepting and dealing with your painful feelings, which may take weeks or even months, refuse to keep living in the past. Live for the present and the future. Do something that will help others.
Remember, it is God's will that we recover and use our pain as a means to promote growth. This can better equip us to minister to others who grieve. He wants to help us—and will—as we open our life to Christ and daily commit and trust ourselves to Him. As His Word says, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."8
NOTE: For further help see the author’s book, How to Mend a Broken Heart, which can be purchased at: http://www.actscom.com/store.
1. Source unknown.
2. The Reader's Digest, August 1967.
3. Romans 12:15.
4. Matthew 5:7, (NIV).
5. Galatians 6:2, (KJV).
6. Psalm 109:2-3.
7. Psalm 109:26.
8. 1 Peter 5:7, (NKJV).
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.