Nothing hurts like the pain of losing a loved one to death, divorce, or separation. These painful feelings may also surface after a major life change such as job loss or a move. The ache inside may feel as if your soul will crush under the weight of a deep, paralyzing sorrow. You may ask how a loving God could allow such a painful thing to happen. The dull sadness often bleeds into denial or anger. Grief is unpredictable, affecting each of us in different ways. While it may not ease the pain, gaining insight into the grief process can help us cope with a greater understanding when we lose a special person or go through a significant change.
HOW GRIEF FEELS
If you feel like you are losing your grip on reality, you may simply be enduring the confusion that often accompanies grief. Irrational fear, dread, paranoia, or even the sense of being empty and numb are common descriptions of those going through grief. Grief may cause some people to experience trembling, nausea, breathing difficulty, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and even insomnia. Feelings of anger can also surface, even if there is no specific target for the anger. Some individuals consume themselves with questions:
What did I do wrong?
How could I have prevented this?
Is this my fault?
The phrase “time heals all wounds” is rarely comforting at the time. However, the passing of time reduces the shock, settles the emotions, and allows adjustment to your sense of equilibrium.
WHY GRIEF HURTS
Losing an important person or going through a significant change may cause our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual system to react to the new pain, similar to limping with a broken leg. The deeper your loss, the more severe your “limp” will be. This pain reflects the depth and impact of your loss.
WHAT GRIEF MEANS
God created us for life and relationships with Him and with others. However, sin destroyed God’s original plan. When we grieve our heart realizes the wrongness of this broken world. Death, divorce. and separation became a part of our new reality as a result of disobedience. “For when you eat of it you will surely die,”
Genesis 2:17. Ever since the day mankind left the perfection of paradise and the reality of God’s presence, we began to experience grief in many areas of our lives.
HOW GRIEF HEALS
Ironically, grief can produce great hope. Your painful reaction to loss reveals a deep yearning for things to be made right again, longing for wholeness and restoration. While grieving the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis asked, “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?’ Have they never been to a dentist?” The dentist’s drill, while an instrument of intense pain, ultimately brings health. Likewise, the drill of grief fosters healing in our lives by raising ultimate issues and eternal questions. What or who brings real happiness? Is this life all there is? Where is true hope found? As believers we know that a much better day is coming when God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. On that day “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3–4
CHILDREN AND GRIEF
If you have children affected by the pain of a death, divorce, separation, or other major life change, it is important that you remain attentive to their needs. You are God’s gift to your children as they endure a loss that may be beyond comprehension. Your role is not to explain why. Your role is to be an agent of comfort and grace, allowing them to experience the confusing emotions of grief in the safety of your patient company. Children process emotions differently and many parents have found the use of children’s books on the topics of grief to be very helpful. A few suggested books are listed in the @Home section.