How do we handle grief?
And David mourned for his son every day2 Samuel 13:37
Grief is a natural response to significant loss or to tragedy. It can take on many forms, such as anxiety, loss of sleep or appetite, depression, anxiety. It can feel overwhelming with no relief.
Let’s talk about grief for a moment. Psychologists today use the analogy of your life being like a box. On one of the walls of the box there is a pain button. Grief is an oversized ball that barely fits in that box and it is constantly pushing on that button. When that button is pressed often and for long periods of time, it is extreme pain. (Visit here to read more of this analogy.) For most of us, grief never goes away entirely, although that ball will overtime get smaller.
How do we cope with grief, then? How do we get the ball to take up less space in our box?
I’d like to offer four opportunities for you to take.
1. Go Ahead and Cry!
It’s ok to cry. As grief is a natural response to a tragedy or a loss, crying (even wailing) is a natural response to grief. Crying is like the opening up a pressure valve that relieves the emotional pressure building up. If you’re in a state of grief and are mourning, no one will think less of you for crying. Some of us may need to scream. Go ahead and find a safe environment for you to do so.
If you feel the urge to be destructive or aggressive, like through your cellphone across the room, I’d encourage you to find a different way to defuse the pressure in a more constructive way. This leads into our second opportunity to cope with grief.
2. Talk with someone
Find someone you trust to talk about your grief with, someone who will mourn with you, to help shoulder your burden. You’re not alone. This person will help you find the constructive ways to navigate the troubled and tumultuous waters of grief.
At Redeemer, we have Stephen Ministers who are trained and certified to be that person for you. Don’t forget your pastors. We are here to help guide you, to give you a word of hope and comfort that is only found in Jesus.
3. Find a Distraction
Sometimes the best thing we can do is to take our minds off the situation. We can’t bury our grief or hide it. We won’t be able to make it disappear, nor will it go away on its own. Finding a distraction isn’t to ignore it in hopes to make it go away. However, a good distraction can be therapeutic as you find ways to relax and rejuvenate. Read a book. Go hiking or camping. Invest time and money in a hobby. Spend time with family.
Understanding distractions cannot hide grief or make it go away, please avoid distractions that would be means of self-medication. Resorting to alcohol or drugs are not helpful means of distraction, but a means to further grief and despair.
4. Look at Jesus
What better hope do we have than Jesus? He’s God in the flesh! He’s God who didn’t want to be distant but to be involved in your life! Jesus comes along side you where you are to share with every aspect of your life. When you are grieving, Jesus comes along side and walks with you through these difficult times.
Jesus even goes one step farther and carries your grief with Him to the cross. And as He was nailed to the cross, your grief was nailed with Him.
When you look at Jesus, listen to what He’s telling you:
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Ps. 50:15) and
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28) and
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn. 11:35).
With that, Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again from the grave to offer us hope and life! That grief may never go way, but with Jesus, that ball in that box shrinks in size to a more manageable size. With, that pain button in that box is pressed less often and with less intensity.
The Apostle Paul comforts us with these words he share to the Thessalonian Christians: “But 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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Because of Jesus, His death and His resurrection, we have hope beyond grief. Because of Jesus we have life beyond grief. Because of Jesus, grief is more manageable.
Praise the Lord!