The church does many things well, but grief is not always one of them. In an attempt to make people feel better, some focus on relieving the pain however they can—a soft touch on the shoulder or reassurance that everything will be okay.
And while comfort certainly has its place, they often overlook the transformative work God wants to do in our lives through our losses.
When we experience loss, what should we do? Here are eight ways to grieve well through the pain of loss instead of wishing it away.
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Start a Journal
This is one of the best ways to grieve. Putting pen to paper forces you to go deep within your soul and unearth all the fears, doubts, and wounds you have kept hidden. The added benefit is that we can tell God all our deepest, darkest secrets without having to talk to someone face-to-face, which can be difficult.
Once you are done and feel you have emptied yourself onto those pages, you have the option of throwing it away, never to revisit it again. It is a great tool to help free you from your heavy burden while still keeping your privacy intact.
Journaling gives you a chance to express all your feelings without the awkwardness of a public spectacle. Let the Lord do what He needs to do through the pages of a blank journal. In the end, you’ll feel lighter than ever before.
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Some Christians view crying as a sign of weakness. For years, I had difficulty crying in public. I didn’t want to appear as if I didn’t have it all together, or worse, be seen as weak. Yet, the closer I got to Jesus, the more He taught me that if I wanted to be like Him, I needed to show my emotions.
John 11:35, although one of the shortest verses recorded in the bible, is packed with so much meaning: “Jesus wept.” He didn’t tell Mary to stop crying; He grieved with her over the death of her brother.
Again, in Luke 19:41, “As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.” Jesus had so much compassion for Jerusalem that He wept over its failure to recognize—and follow—Him as Savior.
If Jesus grieved over the people He loved, why shouldn’t we? Love and loss are a part of life. Allowing tears to flow not only shows you are human, but also shows you loved someone. Let God use your tears to cleanse your soul.
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Lean on Your Friends
The local church body, while not always knowing how to deal with the deep feelings of grief, can help meet physical needs. Whether it’s through a meal, a ride somewhere, or a listening ear, the church can be a great help in your time of need. Don’t be afraid to ask for meals or other physical resources.
Lean on them. That is what they are here for. More than likely, they will come through for you, and in ways far beyond what you expect.
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Give Yourself a Break
Sometimes, it feels like, once a funeral is over, we are just supposed to move on with our lives. But that’s easier said than done.
In Scripture, they took much longer than just a week to grieve: “And Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So they embalmed him, taking the forty days required to complete the embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days” (Genesis 50:3).
While it may not be possible to mourn for 70 consecutive days, it is important not to rush the grieving process. It takes months, sometimes even years, to learn how to move forward after the loss of a loved one.
Grieving is not linear. Take whatever time you need and ask the Lord to help you move forward when it’s time.
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Grieve with Hope
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
As painful as it may be, grieve as one who has hope that you will see your loved one again (if they have given themselves to the Lord). This is the hope we can find in Jesus. Through His death on the cross, we are afforded the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven together!
Although it is difficult to live on earth without the people we care about, we can seek solace in the fact that we will see those loved ones once again. We are separated on earth temporarily, but one day, we will be reunited.
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Use Your Time Productively
Taking your mind off of grief and focusing on a task can help you during this time of loss. Immerse yourself in serving your church family and ministering to others.
Be careful not to bury yourself in work and neglect your living loved ones. But work might help take your mind off of your loss and help you accomplish God’s work, even in the midst of grief.
Take a moment and analyze your heart regarding what service will look like. Try a new ministry and see if it is a part of your spiritual gifts. You may even find a new way to use your talents for the Lord.
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Although many people progress through the stages of grief, in some cases, grief turns into depression or even thoughts of suicide. Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a counselor if your grief is overwhelming you.
Look for a professional Christian counselor who understands the importance of the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Let them help you through the grieving process in a healthy way.
Being stuck on one stage of grief does both you and God a disservice. Having someone guide you through the process may be exactly what you need to put your life back together. It may be an expense, but in the end, your spiritual freedom is worth the sacrifice.
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Make a Scrapbook
When your sorrow has eased enough for you to relive memories of your loved one, spend time with those memories. Go through old photos or videos and make scrapbook tributes.
It will be something you can easily access to feel close to your loved one. It may help you grieve as you cry and allow the cathartic nature of tears to cleanse your soul and heal your wound.
Allowing yourself the chance to relive the happy memories will soothe your loss temporarily, tiding you over until you see them again.
Grief is never easy. Losing a loved one is one of the most painful things you will ever experience, and you may be feeling stuck in your grief. While it is okay to grieve for a while, it is not okay to waste your life stuck in grief, unable to move forward.
Christ died so we can be free in hope—believing that these losses are only temporary. Through His sacrifice, He defeated death—and that is a reality that can give us great comfort in our grief.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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Originally published Tuesday, 18 June 2019.