When You Need To Grieve The Loss Of A Loved One
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Ever since our mother died, my sister won’t talk about it. It seems that she wants to just seal that part of her life off and pretend it didn’t happen,” confided a friend, wondering what he could do to help his sister.
There are times when we think that ignoring pain or loss will make it disappear, when in reality we simply suppress it, and the longer it remains buried, the stronger becomes the volcano of emotions which we try to lock up within.
Ruth was like that. When her six-year-old son died with cancer, she kept a stiff upper lip. She never cried. “David is with the Lord,” she would say, adding, “Why should I grieve?” For two years, she suppressed her emotions. And then she broke. The volcano of pain erupted and it tore her life apart.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). He is really telling us that where there is no grief, there can be no comfort or healing. Frankly, life is full of difficulty and pain—the kind that you would never bring upon yourself or wish upon your most bitter enemy.
When tragedy strikes, there are three simple guidelines, based on what Jesus said, which can help.
Guideline #1: Externalize your grief. That’s the mourning which Jesus talked about. Yes, talk about the pain. Talk about the loss. It’s OK to shed tears. They are an emotional relief valve. Relive precious moments together. Here’s what not to do: Don’t inflict greater pain and guilt by playing the “what if” or “if only” mind game. Don’t blame others. If they were responsible, believe me, their conscience would tell them that. Don’t hide the pictures or the scrapbooks.
Guideline #2: Internalize your faith. This means that you keep on telling yourself what you know is true—that God does love you, that He is a refuge to whom you can turn, that someday you will understand. I am convinced that we can never know or experience a measure of the grace of God and learn personally that He is enough and that His grace is sufficient until we face dark hours and trying times.
Guideline #3: Eternalize your hope. Are babies in heaven? Yes. Are we someday going to be together? Yes. Will God Himself wipe away our tears? Yes. The focus of the New Testament is really on an eternal tomorrow, and as you hold on to those precious truths, you eternalize the hope within you and find comfort.
Remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” And that comfort comes from three sources: God Himself, family and friends who encourage you, and the Scriptures, which cannot lie.
The Bible tells us that the death of His children is “precious in the sight of the Lord” (Psalm 116:15). Even a casual reading of the New Testament has to bring you to conclude that for God’s children, there are no accidents, only incidents. But regardless of what happens, we are never beyond His notice, or His care.
And that beyond your pain, and beneath your loneliness, there is the firm hand of a loving God from which you can never be separated. So, when you cannot understand or do not see any rhyme or reason to life, some way, somehow, hold on to what you know is true. Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 38, 39). It’s still true.