Where did I put my car keys? I can’t find my wallet. Have you seen my water bottle anywhere? When something is lost that is of some worth to us, we instinctively put our minds to the task of finding it. When someone tells me they’ve lost something, I immediately want to help them find it. And, like the woman in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15), it is indeed joyful for all when the lost item has been found.
But in this life we don’t just lose things, we lose people. I’m referring to losing a loved one to death. This kind of loss can’t be found by diligent searching in the way we scour our environment in hopes of finding lost items. It’s common to hear someone say they lost their loved one rather than saying they died. And they are right in the sense that it is a loss, a great loss that brings on deep and painful grief. Grievers have shared that saying their loved one has died is just too painful so referring to their loved one as being lost helps them avoid the “D” word.
Grief will occur with any significant loss and it is probably never more apparent than when someone with whom we have a close relationship dies. Grief is a natural and normal response to losing something or someone we value. While we all grieve over our losses, not everyone understands or takes the time needed to mourn those losses. Mourning is what is needed when grief surfaces. This is how we tend to our brokenness and allow God to accompany us through a season of grief. Allowing time and space for mourning is a healthy choice but many of us are hard pressed to carve this out for ourselves and to support it for other grievers.
As members of the body of Christ, we have been called to work together for the building up of His body; not only building on behalf of others but keeping ourselves in the best possible state of health. Grief is a specific type of illness that deserves care and attention.
If you have gotten this far in this article, you are most likely currently experiencing a loss or know someone close to you hurting over a loss. It is normal to feel anything but normal during this season of our lives.
Just as God did not create us to separate ourselves from Him, He did not create us to be separated from each other. The effects of sin have left us experiencing pain never intended by our loving Creator. Yet, He has given us the assurance of His presence now and the promise of complete future restoration as we move through a season of grief and loss.
Here are a few things to remember when we are experiencing loss or wanting to be a healing presence for others:
- We all experience grief because loss is part of living in a world of brokenness. Grief can sometimes even cause us to question our sanity. Knowing grief is universally normal, even though it was not God’s original design, can help us lean into this season without trying to avoid it.
- Healing from loss is a process that takes time and it’s on its own timetable incomparable to anyone else’s including previous losses. Simply accepting the reality of a deep loss takes time and attention.
- How we grieve is unique to each of us and it is best not to compare or judge other griever’s words or behavior. Only God knows their heart and He knows where, when and how to impart healing.
- Healing happens in the context of community. Accepting our need of support in this process will help us face this season in healthier ways. Consider connecting with others in this season by joining a grief support group.
- One of the most challenging needs in our healing is choosing to embrace the pain by allowing ourselves to feel. For the Christian, our Supreme Example is Jesus. Isaiah describes Him as a “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) He did not avoid facing the pain but felt it fully. When we avoid the pain, we also block ourselves off from other positive emotions that allow us to heal and help others heal.
- Extreme sorrow over a loss can temporarily cause us to feel we’ve lost meaning or purpose in our lives. This is a spiritual crisis and seeking counsel from someone we trust can help us navigate through this crisis and find heart-healing as God provides.
- Memories are what hold us until we are reunited with our loved one. If you are supporting someone, listen to their stories about their relationship with their loved one and if you have memories about their loved one, share them with them as well. Joy can surface in this sharing even in our early days of grief.
Sharing hope and wholeness through the healing power of Christ is the mission to which we have been called. For the grieving, providing caring attentive presence is how the healing power of Christ is experienced from within His body.
If you are interested in learning more about facilitating a grief peer support group at your church, NAD Health Ministries has resources, education and support for this ministry. Simply click on the link, fill out the information and you will be connected with someone from our team to provide you with information.
“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 NLT