|GRIEF: Help For The Hurting
GRIEF: HELP FOR THE HURTING
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GRIEF: HELP FOR THE HURTING
by: James C. Guy
From THE BIBLE SAYS
WHAT IS GRIEF
People often think only of grief as the result of the loss of a loved one. But, grief can come from any significant loss. It may be from the death of a loved one, but could also be from the break-up of a marriage, the result of being robbed, or from things such as the loss of a job, or the loss of an item that has sentimental value to the person. Anything a person loses that is near and dear to them will cause grief to some degree.
IT’S ALRIGHT TO GRIEVE
Grief is a normal part of life. It is a normal mechanism that God has given us to help us deal with losses that occur in our lives. Even Jesus Himself suffered grief.
It is common for well meaning people to say things like, “Just trust God and it will all go away,” “Remember the 23rd Psalm,” or “It was just God’s will” when we grieve. Those things usually aren’t much help and often are not true. Don’t feel guilty about feeling grief.
IT DOES NOT JUST “GO AWAY”
Grief does not just “go away” with time. It is not like a bad cold that you just have to “get over.” You don’t get over grief. Rather, grief helps you to get THROUGH your loss. Doug Manning compares grief to a wounded finger:
“a cut finger is numb before it bleeds. It bleeds before it hurts. It hurts until it begins to heal. It forms a scab and itches until finally, the scab is gone and a small scar is left where once there was a wound.”1
Grief is like that finger. It will heal, but only after a period of time. And just like that cut leaves a scar, losses often do as well. But, just like we must care for a cut finger so it doesn’t get infected, so we should work through our grief so that we can eventually come to accept our loss as well as the scars it may leave.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus Himself kept the scars from His death on the cross. Why couldn’t He have arisen without them? Perhaps, in part, it shows us that suffering in life leaves scars, but eventually it results in something better.
1Doug Manning, Don’t Take My Grief Away, (Hereford, TX: Insight Books, 1979).
PEOPLE GRIEVE DIFFERENTLY
There are often some common feelings associated with grief. But, God made us all individuals with individual personalities, minds, and emotions. Not only that, but each loss is different. You have as much right to deal with grief in your way as another person does in theirs as long as it isn’t sinful or harmful to others. No one else has the right to expect you to deal with it in their way. It is YOUR grief, not theirs.
Grief does not go away after the funeral, the bankruptcy, the divorce, or the insurance check. It does not go away at any certain time. Some think that it should go away after the one year anniversary of the loss, but that isn’t always true. In fact, as we have noted, it may not ever fully go away. There may always be a “scar.” But, we do want to get to the point of accepting the loss as best we can.
COMMON WAYS OF GRIEVING
Remember, people grieve in different ways. But, there are some common feelings associated with grief that people often experience that may be helpful for you to understand. You may or may not experience them all.
First, there is usually “shock and denial.” This occurs immediately after discovering the loss, and often for some time afterwards. It is a mechanism that God has given us to help us cope with our loss for a time until we are better able to deal with it
You may feel “angry.” It may seem unfair to us that we have suffered the loss. It is not wrong to be angry, as long as we don’t act on that anger in inappropriate ways. The Bible says, “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). It doesn’t say that it is a sin to BE angry.
Many experience “guilt.” Even though the loss you have suffered may not be your fault at all, it is not unnatural for you to think it is. You may begin to think that if only you had done something different, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. But, most people feel guilt even when they are not to blame. Even if you DID contribute to the loss, the only thing you can do it to forgive yourself, and allow others and God to forgive you. He stands ready and willing.
You might go through bouts of “depression.” This is common, and it may come and go throughout the grieving process. A certain amount of depression is normal. Don’t listen to people when they tell you it isn’t right or healthy for you to be depressed. But, severe depression or staying depressed for too long is not good. If this happens, you may need more help getting through it.
“Anxiety” often sets in. It is true the Bible says, “be anxious for nothing....” (Philippians 4:6). But, we aren’t talking about the kind of anxiety that leaves God out. We are talking about the normal feelings of sadness, fear, and concern. Anxiety can cause physical problems such as problems sleeping, changes in appetite, fatigue, and a decreased immune system. It does not mean you are not trusting in God. And it will eventually go away. Just remember not to leave God and the help available from His children out of your grieving process.
Finally, there is eventual “acceptance.” This doesn’t mean you are “over it.” It just means you have come to accept the loss you have suffered. You have worked through your grief. It’s not automatic, but a process. You may not get to this point in a year, or even two. But, the better you understand grief, the easier it will be to get through it, and be able to accept and talk about it.
WHAT CAN I DO
There are some things you can do to help yourself work through your grief.
1) Realize that you are limited in what you can change. As the old Serenity Prayer says:
“God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Do what you can, but don’t try to do more than you can.
2) Realize that it will take time and it will get better in YOUR time, not someone else’s. Remember each person is different and each person grieves differently.
3) Rely on others to be your support group. Your support group may include family, friends, medical professionals, counselors, preachers, church members, and others. They may not always know what to say, and may not always say the right things, but they ARE there to help you. It’s YOUR grief, and nobody can feel what you feel, but they can help make it easier. I Corinthians 12:26 says, “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.”
4) Don’t be ashamed to express your feelings. It is alright to cry, to express your anger, and to talk about your feelings. In fact, it is VERY helpful to express your feelings in these ways. Find someone who will listen and be your “shoulder to cry on.” That someone will often be other people, and should ALWAYS be God. The Psalms are full of examples where David used God as his “shoulder.” Who better to talk to than God. He’s always there for us to talk to.
5) Don’t blame God nor yourself. It is easy to blame God when bad things happen. It is not God that brought evil, death, and suffering into the world. Satan did that.
6) Don’t forget to rely on God’s resources. There are many good people and many good books that may help. But no book is better than the word of God, and nobody more helpful than God. God gives us comfort through the Bible, through prayer, and through His children helping each other through the tough times. James 5:13 says, “If anyone...is suffering, let him pray.” Don’t forget God’s help.
7) Do things. Get involved in worthwhile activities. This is not to get your mind off of your loss, but so your mind can work through the grief of your loss. There are times when you may not feel like doing things. This is alright for a short time. But, being involved in church, work, hobbies, and other things often helps you work through your grief.
8) Be cautious of your decisions. It may be easy for you to make snap decisions. Remember that your mind may be on your grief and therefore you may make decisions without thinking them through.
9) Do what you can to help others through their grief once you get through yours. II Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Many others have and will experience loss and grief like you have. You can be there for them just as others were there for you. You can begin doing this for each other even while you are still working through your own grief.
10) Be sure you are right with God. Many people turn away from God after a loss. But, He wants us to grow closer to Him, not further away (James 1:2-3).
HOW CAN I GET RIGHT WITH GOD
THE BIBLE SAYS to be saved you must:
a) Believe in Christ.
(Mark 16:16; John 8:24; John 3:16)
b) Repent of your sins.
(Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19)
c) Confess Him.
(Acts 8:36-37; Romans 10:10)
d) Be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and to be added to the Lord’s body which is the church.
(Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:18-21; Acts 2:47)
e) Live a faithful Christian life.
(Romans 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12)
If you need help with your spiritual life, or help working through your grief, please contact us at the address on the front cover.
James C. Guy / The Bible Says
P.O. Box 100
Demopolis, AL 36732
©1999 James C. Guy
-The Bible Says Ministries
All rights reserved.
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