jeruselemcross St. John's Anglican Mission

Dealing with Grief

John 11:35, "Jesus wept."

"There is no grief like the grief that does not speak", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

grandma's flowersGrief affects us deeply.
When we lose someone we love, we experience a great loss in our life. Our lives are forever changed. We think we cannot go on. Fact is, our loved one wants us to go on. Our loved one wants us to go on because they loved us. We will find a new normal in our life.

We will experience many emotions as we face our grief. Each of these emotions is normal. Experiencing these emotions is a normal part of the grieving process.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross suggested there are eight stages of grief. They are called stages, but you do not experience them one after another.

Stages of Grief
In the first 72 hours of being notified or seeing your loved one die, you may experience shock. This can occur with anticipatory grief as well. Anticipatory grief is when you receive news of a terminal illness. Shock is when you feel emotional numbness.

You may experience strong emotion, like weeping. Psychologists and some theologians tell you not to weep. If Jesus wept, I am sure God made us to weep. Weeping is normal for all, men, women, and children.

We may experience fear and panic because we have new responsibilities we take on now the loved one is deceased.

We may experience guilt. No relationship is perfect. We all fall short of the glory of God and say things we regret. Forgive yourself and forgive them. Use this as a time to learn how to better love and interact.

We may experience anger. We may become angry at others, the deceased, ourselves, and God.

gravesideWe may experience apathy and think life is not worth living at all.

We may experience depression. We may feel a deep sense of loneliness. We will experience adjustment.

Be patient with each other. "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, being with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2. Each of us mourn in a different way. It is important that we are honest with how we feel. It is important we work through our feelings. Do not use grief as an excuse to abuse alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs cloud our mind and our spirit. Remember, God loves you and the person who died.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 12:15.
It is very important to come together as family and friends to weep together, to come along side and edify one another, to share the loss with one another, and to celebrate the life of the person whom you have lost. During the first three to six months, it is important to spend a great deal of time with one another in order to process the grief and find a new normal in your lives.

"For God so loved the world he sent his only son." John:3:16.
There is a God who loves us.

Seek wise and loving counsel. "The way of a fool is right his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel." Proverbs 12:15. Do not hesitate to seek assistance in managing your grief. It is wise and prudent to speak to your counselor, priest, pastor, or elder to gain insight into your grief and help you process your grief in order to make the adjustment and find your new normal. Pain is something we must get through. We must face it, not bury it. We must find a meaning to what has happened and find meaning to our new direction.

Your grief is not a mental disease. Viktor Frankl, a survivor of three concentration camps, wrote that our agonies of loss in life are opportunties to search for meaning. Grief forces us to confront the big questions as to why I exist and what is my purpose in life. I strongly disagree with most of what Nietzsche wrote, however I concur with his statement, "He who has a 'WHY' to live for can bear almost any 'HOW'." Anti-depressants may be used but are not encouraged. You cannot solve an existential problem with medication. The only way out of an existential distress is through it.

Live your purpose We get so caught up in things that we forget what our purpose in life is. Do not bury your grief in money, computer games, and objects. Paul wrote in Romans 8:28; "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Thus our purpose is to love God and love each other. To grow in maturity and wisdom through the experiences we have and share with others.

"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -
But the pain of grief
Is only a shadow
When compared with the pain
Of never risking love." Hillary Stanton Zunin

Our deepest condolences to you and your family for your loss. Nothing I can say will alleviate your pain. You feel this pain because you loved the person you lost.

God created us to love and to be loved. Each of us were made in God's image to glorify God and to share the love he has for us with others. Love unshared dies a lonely death. Love shared lives forever with those whom we have shared love with.

The truth is we are all fragile creations. Life, joy, loss, sorrow and death are facts of existence. King Solomon taught us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time to be born and a time to die." Death comes to us all. When someone we love dies, we feel loss and grief. We must learn to deal and accept our grief in our own time.

"To weep is to make less the depth of grief.