God understands the pain of losing a loved one. God has been “losing” loved ones for thousands of years. As One who understands the pain of grief, God promises comfort to those who grieve. In fact, the Bible refers to God as “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Writing in reference to death, Paul said in 1Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV), “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.”The Oxford Dictionary defines grief as “intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” Merriam-Webster says something very similar. The word“grief”—like “gravity” and the adjective “grave”—come from the Latin “gravis,”meaning “heavy” or “burdensome.”Grief can be a physical, emotional, or psychological reaction to an experience of loss. Grieving is healthy and natural. Grieving is simply the process of coming to terms with loss. The Bible writer Paul suggests it is possible—essential—that a person grieve with hope.Austrian neurologist Dr. Sigmund Freud said in 1917, “Grieving is a natural process that should not be tampered with.” Eminent Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” In other words, failure to deal with grief can result in significant physiological issues.So how can a person cope with grief? How can a person grieve—as Paul suggests —with hope? Grief can be overwhelming. It’s common for grieving people to experience loneliness, emptiness, and frequent crying. People dealing with grief might find it difficult to breathe deeply, they may feel as though a heavy weight is resting on their chest, and they may find it hard to enjoy activities they once enjoyed.Short-term memory can fail, concentration can become difficult, and feelings of depression can settle in.
Is There Hope? One of the great themes of the Bible is the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns. “Behold, I tell you a mystery,” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). The return of Jesus is referred to in Scripture as “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). One day God will remake this sin-scarred planet, and throughout eternity there will be “no more death”(Revelation 21:4).Grief can be so suffocating it can often feel as though the future offers only
•••••emptiness. But it’s important to understand when facing grief that there really is away through what is often an extremely difficult time. The big picture outlined inScripture shows that—ultimately—things work out well for those who live in faith inGod. An eternity without sin, without grief, and with those you love awaits those who choose to entrust their lives to God.It’s important to understand that God is affected by our grief. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35). Paul encouraged people of faith to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). The Psalmist wrote that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm30:5). Nobody gets through life without experiencing grief on some level. Not long after he painted the “Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” Rembrandt experienced devastating grief when he and his wife lost their two-month-old son. Three years later, their daughter died at just three weeks of age, and their second daughter lived for only a month. The only child that survived was their fourth child, Titus.Unfortunately, the year after Titus was born, Rembrandt’s wife Saskia passed away.Grief and loss, along with their cousin pain, are no respecter of persons.Therefore, it’s pointless to try to avoid or ignore grief. The question is, how do you cope with grief? How can you survive grief? How can you approach grief in such a way as you come through the grieving process healthier, and perhaps even stronger than you were before you grieved?In the late 1960s, Psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Kûbler-Ross wrote of the “fives stages of grief.” Others have suggested there are four, or seven stages of grief. And while many experts have countered that these stages are not necessarily experienced in order, or even experienced at all by many people, Kûbler-Ross’ On Death and Dying became accepted as the seminal work on the subject of grief.
Kûbler-Ross suggested the five stages of grief—initially applied to terminally ill patients, and later to any person experiencing grief—are: Denial (“This didn’t happen.”) Anger (“This isn’t fair!”) Bargaining (“If she were back, I’d do so many things differently!”) Depression (“Why go on?”) Acceptance (“Things are going to be alright.”)As imperfect as it might be, anyone who has experienced grief can identify in some way with Kûbler-Ross’ model.