Good Grief

Grief.

Just the word evokes emotion. Sadness. Loneliness. Despair.

Many of you have experienced grief and you know what I am talking about.

This week my church family experienced a great loss. One of our own went home to be with Jesus leaving behind a wife, two children and a whole bunch of people who loved him deeply.

As I have talked with people this week regarding death and loss I was struck by one thing. Many people do not know how to grieve, or that it is permissible and acceptable to do so.

Grieving is a normal, healthy and appropriate response to death and significant loss.

For those of us who are left behind, we need to have an appropriate and healthy way to reconcile our feelings of loss, hurt and sadness.

Many years ago a good friend and ministry partner died. I was visibly upset and crying during and after the memorial service when someone I respected pulled me aside and proceeded to inform me that I should not be sad, but happy for our friend because now she was with the Lord.

The problem with this is that I felt judged and it completely shut me down emotionally.

I didn’t feel happy that my friend was gone. I felt sad. I felt angry. I felt disappointed. I felt confused. I did not feel happy.

I was young in my faith and this was the first experience I had with the death of someone close to me. Unfortunately I took this persons advice to heart and for many years put on a brave face and tried to force myself into believing I was at peace with death.

When we put on a brave face and pretend we are not sad it only pushes us further into despair and resentment.

Grieving is biblical. Grieving is a process. Grieving is healing.

God understands our pain. He knows the depth of our sorrow and He wants to meet you (and me) in the midst of our lament.

In Psalm 34:18 we are reminded that, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The most authentic thing we can do is to bring all of who we are to the feet of Jesus. He has prepared a place for you to come and lay your head and heart before Him.

Friends, find rest and hope in Christ alone. He knows the groaning of your heart and every tear that forms in your eyes.

Death and loss was not part of His plan, but He will use it in our lives to strengthen our faith and trust in Him and for His glory.

He wants us to come with our heavy hearts and swollen eyes.

Find rest O my soul in Christ alone.

If you find yourself overwhelmed or in need of someone to talk to check out a few of the links below. You are not alone, and you do not need to carry this by yourself.

http://www.griefshare.org/

http://www.celebraterecovery.com.au/

Grace & Peace ~ Karen

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17 thoughts on “Good Grief

  1. Matt Patterson says:

    I sit here with tears in my eyes and a tightness in my heart and chest from your eloquent words. Please know I will share with others. God bless you Karen for talent, wisdom and spirit.

  2. Penny says:

    For me, this week has been an amazing experience while grieving the death of a close friend. Watching from the vantage point of the church office, how the church family came together as a seamless fabric of love to serve in honor of a loved one, to see our pastor weave a thread of grace and compassion through that fabric, to hear the stories of how Scott’s legacy weaves a yarn of forever-change in the lives of people he didn’t know – I have felt grief and hope, exhaustion and energy, struggle and peace and Christ’s strength has been a cloth of comfort wrapped around me through it all. As I sit down to do my toughest job this week, preparing the program for Scott’s memorial, your words just add one more layer to that experience. Thank you!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Penny – thank you for the great visual of being wrapped in the comfort of Christ’s strength and the process of grieving. Grief is a process and with it brings a myriad of feelings and emotions…hope, exhaustion, energy, peace and pain. Grace & Peace to you as you grieve the loss of a friend…thanks for sharing your experience with me.

  3. Eileen says:

    Wow, Karen!  Everywhere I turn today I am reading posts on loss.  I wrote one today today.  Yesterday, was the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death.  I loved your thoughts on grief and loss.  I made the mistake of thinking that I had to “get over it” after my mom died.  Today, I blogged about how wrong this idea is.  Thank you so much for words!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Eileen – I read your post…it was beautiful. Grieving takes time, patience & prayer as well as really allowing yourself to experience the full range of emotions that come with significant loss.  My dad died 14 years ago and my sister went home to be with Jesus 4 years ago this month…I’ll never “get over it”.  Thanks for stopping by.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Eileen – I read your post…it was beautiful. Grieving takes time, patience & prayer as well as really allowing yourself to experience the full range of emotions that come with significant loss.  My dad died 14 years ago and my sister went home to be with Jesus 4 years ago this month…I’ll never “get over it”.  Thanks for stopping by.

  4. H Paplow says:

    Good word Karen. Well meaning people say hurtful things during lose.
    Jesus wept.
    And the Bible says we are to weep with those who weep. That is one of the best things we can do is join in someone elses pain and not even say a word.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thank you Holly. Often times I think people feel compelled to say something profound that will make them feel better – but ends up making the other person feel worse. A hug and I’m sorry for your loss goes a long way…

  5. Rhonda Hewett says:

    Karen, beautifully written.  I love reading things like this, because as a nurse for cancer patients I have seen the result of false hope and lack of authenticity.  It ultimately leads to more pain and not healing.  You are right He understands, He meets us where we are at and He counts our tears in a botte and the good news is that through all that He heals our hearts.  Love the GriefShare program. I facilitated a group for awhile. Not sure who received more benefit the participants or me.  You go girl!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Rhonda…false hope is so destructive – especially when a person is in a fragile state of healing. I appreciate your comment knowing what you do and how nurses stand in the gap with patients and their families. Much love to you my friend!

  6. Cari Zorno says:

    Karen, Thank you for writing this. We don’t know how to grieve and have a misconception on what good grief is especially for Christians. After losing our 2 middle children we had alot to learn unfortunatly in the school of hard knocks which is a bad place for the grieving to learn. Then it also becomes the grievers place to be the educators of those who mean to ‘come along side’. Thank you for stepping out and helping educate. Thank you also for including the GriefShare link. We have led  GriefShare groups now for 4 years.
    Cari Zorno 

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Cari, I am so sorry for your loss. You just brought up a great point – often it is those who are grieving who become the educators for the well intentioned helpers. Unfortunately grief is not a topic we talk about much in church until after the fact. I pray that you continually find peace and comfort in the deep love of the Lord. Thanks for sharing your story with me, I hope you will come visit on the couch again. Grace & Peace to you…

  7. Cindy Holman says:

    There’s nothing wrong with grieving – in fact if we don’t we actually do more harm to ourselves.  We have to let it out and fully grieve to allow healthy dealing with pain to exist.  I’ve experienced this myself when I lost a good friend – so I know what you were feeling.  No one can tell you how to grieve.

  8. Barbie says:

    Such a good article.  God gave us emotions and sometimes the healhiest thing we can do is to allow ourselves to feel those emotions.  If we don’t we often end up in a worse place.  God always brings us through, in time.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Hi Barbie, thanks for you response. I agree…our emotions are what is truest about us and an accurate picture of our heart. When we are incongruent with our words and the state of our heart than we only hurt ourselves and stunt our growth in Christ.

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