There is no one that lives very long that is not touched by, if not immersed in, grief. Grief is a visitor to our lives that wants to pull up a seat and stay for an extended period of time, and if we are not careful, it will move in to stay permanently. I cannot think of very many things that are worse than being overcome in grief. I have been there, but by God’s grace He has allowed me to overcome.
My first encounter with grief came in in 1993 when my father committed suicide. Anyone who knew my father knew he was a Christian,but he suffered from a chemical imbalance in his brain that caused him to suffer from manic depression. He was fine as long as he took his medicine, but someone told him a Christian should not have to take medicine. Wanting to be a strong Christian, he stopped. Tragically I had to help the police officer take my father off the rope where he hung himself. A little over 12 years ago, my wife was told she had cancer and she only had 12-18 months to live. Oh what grief! I watched her dwindle away eventually losing her in 2004. Grief was not done with me yet. I lost my mother 2 years later suddenly, then in 2013, my brother lost his battle with cancer. The worse was when I lost my son to leukemia in just 4 weeks’ time. I share this personal information to let you know that God is still good, and you can overcome.
While suffering through my grief, someone recommended I read a self-help book on grief, but I found that there is no magic wand to relive your grief except your faith in God and using His word to move in your life. He has all the answers in His book, so let me share the 9 point plan that has helped me.
- Acknowledge your sorrow and shed your tears: see Ecclesiastes 3:4. Everyone’s timeline and how they handle grief is different, so whatever it is, take time to mourn but realize there is a time to regain your joy. You need to treat your grief like a boil. A boil never gets better until it is lanced and you get the corruption out, so it is with grief. You have to get the tears and emotions out before you can heal.
- Share your grief. Romans 12:15 and 1 Corinthians 12:26 say we are to mourn with those that mourn, but this also means we have to let others mourn with us. Nothing helped me more than sharing my grief with my church family and letting them mourn with me.
- Ask God to handle it: see Psalm 23:4. David knew about grief and knew that whatever came his way that God would help him through it. He will help you too if you ask.
- Don’t let it settle in. Focus on the positives not the negatives as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8. Hold onto and repeat the promises God has spoken to us like Romans 8:28 or Revelation 21:4.
- Don’t let it creep back in: see Colossians 3:15. There will be times when tears and emotions come flooding back in for no apparent reason or maybe a song or saying will remind you of the grief you have suffered. This is the time to focus on the blessing you have and had, not what you lost. Be thankful, not sorrowful. I choose to remember how blessed I was to have the people I lost in my life and the fond memories I have instead of the loss.
- Realize that you are not the only one that has suffered or lost: see 1 Corinthians 12:26.
- Understand that the situation or loss is only temporary: see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. If your loved ones are in a saved condition we WILL see them again.
- Consider there is a reason for your grief and ask what you need to learn from the situation: see James 1:2-4.
- Use the lesson you have learned to help others: see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. There is no better therapy than being able to help others manage their grief by sharing your experiences.
We have been given a precious gift, that even when grief is overwhelming and tears fill our eyes, we have a savior that cares for us and feels our pain. The good news is that he endured grief and hardships to give you a home in heaven where there will be no grief or sorrow if you want it. The greatest grief you will ever endure is denying the truth until it is too late.
~ Rick Greenwood