I’ve often said grief is my unwanted companion. It travels. Through mountains and valleys, once tragedy grips, grief is hard-pressed to let go. I’ve often watched small children in crowded spaces fighting their parent’s instruction to hold hands. They want free, and so they temper tantrum trying to let go of the hand guiding them. I feel like one of those children, only I’m working to break free from the hand of grief threatening to pull me under.
Two weeks ago, I lost my brother. It was sudden. He’s with Jesus, there’s no doubt, but I’m not. I’m still here left behind to combat the grip of grief. Here’s the thing: that unwanted “companion” I’m fighting… It’s needed. To properly walk through struggle, I need to appropriately process my emotions. Truthfully, grief is only negative if I allow it to control me. Jesus gives us power to deal with this emotion. I know that to be true, because I’ve suffered a great deal of loss in my lifetime. I’m well educated in grief, and this time I’m ready to fight the good fight. Here are 3 ways to help you deal with grief in a healthy manner.
1. Be intentional
I cannot control my situation, but I can control my response. However, it’s easy to forget I have any choice at all. Yes, I want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head all day long. Yes, I want to shake my fists at the sky in an attempt to show God just what I think about this tragedy. After all, it has succeeded in shattering my heart in more than one million jagged pieces. But, I know better.
God called me to healing and wholeness. He’s called you to the same. His love is the overwhelming peace that will put every shard of our broken hearts back together. We must be intentional about remembering His goodness through grief. This is not about our plan; it’s about His. Does this knowledge make it any easier? NO! It makes it possible. With God all things are possible. (See Matthew 19:26) It’s even possible to lose a loved one in the prime of their life, who shares all your stories and loves you just because you’re you. Even that is possible with Christ. Be intentional to remember His goodness.
2. Be Honest
I’ve made a decision to walk through this land honestly. It’s okay to have a bad day, and it’s more than okay to let other people know about it. Jesus is still working inside me regardless of the current state of emotions. Shedding tears does not mean we are shedding faith! I happen to think people will see the Jesus in us when we show how we truly feel. It builds trust. We can trust others to understand that we still have faith in God even though we’re having a tough time. And, others can trust that what they see is what they get. This is part of God working in us. As a people of God we can walk this road together. It doesn’t do anyone any good to hold back tears. Our Father in heaven catches each one in a bottle. (See Psa 56:8) There’s power in that truth.
3. Be determined
I’ve heard it said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This means we can have good intentions, and reside honestly within them, but they might not lead us to where we need to go. It takes adding a third element to this list in order to make it effective. We must be determined.
Determination takes fight. It means you are certain in what you believe and you will stand strong against the contrary. I recently read Lisa Whittle’s book Put Your Warrior Boots On. It was perfect timing for me because not long after finishing it, my brother died. In the book, Lisa makes a declaration: I am able! We must lace up our warrior boots and determine to fight no matter what the battle ground looks like. Jesus died to make us able. Our ability to deal with death comes through His life.
God gifted you everything you need to fight. His Holy Spirit dwells inside you, making you able to survive whatever horrific circumstances you’re facing. Truthfully, I could probably list one thousand other elements to give us victory over grief, but I’m still learning to walk one-day-at-a-time through this ground. Above all, here’s the good news: God is right beside us. He’s helping us navigate the tough terrain even when we can’t see, hear, or feel Him. He’s there. Faith lights the way and mercy gives us new hope each day. As Lisa Whittle would say, “Put your warrior boots on!”
Jennifer Kostick is an author and speaker who teaches women how to activate their life’s purpose through the study of Scripture. Jennifer knows more about grief and loss than she ever thought she would, but Jesus met her in the middle of fierce storms and held her tightly with an even fiercer love. In addition to her love of teaching the powerful truth of Scripture, Jennifer is married to Paul, her husband of twenty-five years, has three children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law! She is also a full-time seminary student… because you can never know too much about the Bible! Jennifer blogs at www.Jenniferkostick.com and is passionate about encouraging women through a godly message of mercy and hope.