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In Time of Grief

have several friends who have recently experienced the death of loved ones in their families. In the past few days, I have been involved in one such family’s graveside service.

Then we are all aware of the recent helicopter crash that took the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and several others who were traveling with him.

With these incidents in prayerful thought, I want to say a needed word about the sobering subject of grief.

Grief has been defined as “the natural response to any loss. The key word is that it is natural. There is an orderly process people go through in dealing with grief. This process is nature’s way of healing a broken heart.

Now, it may help if we review the various stages of grief. Since God will guide us through these stages, in time, it will strengthen us to name them.

Shock. That’s when the news first comes: “I can’t believe it.”

Numbness. In a dazed condition, we try to absorb the shock. We tend only to the practical necessities of the funeral.

Emotional relief. This is the time when tears or laughter or another kind of emotional expression breaks through. If emotions are not expressed they will later on cause nervous restlessness or physical damage.

Depression or loneliness. At this point in our grief we feel isolated and cut off. A certain disinterest in life sets in, “Nobody understands me and  I’m so lonely.”

Guilt. In our grief, most of us deal with a measure of guilt. Why didn’t I do this or do that?

Recovery. We commit ourselves to start over again and rebuild our lives. The mark of faith and victory is in the ability to go on.

You could add “anger” and “questioning” to these stages of grief. But something of these appear in every kind of grief. And the progression from one stage to another is not always clearly defined. The grief process is always jagged, but it does lead to recovery.

However, there are some practical steps we can take or understand that will aid us in the grief process.

First, we can remember that God often heals through time.

Second, we can keep our spiritual disciplines. When I first received the heavy news that my father had died, for several days I didn’t feel like spending quiet time. But I kept to my daily discipline of quiet time anyway, and from it I received an additional source of strength.

Third, we can stay in fellowship with others. So much of our healing comes through the gate of fellowship.

Fourth, we can take some definite course of action. When King David was caught up in grief over the loss of his child, he took a bath, cleaned up and went to the temple. Then he ate.

  Fifth, we can move forward. In essence, grief is like riding a bicycle. The only way to keep your balance is to go forward. If you stand still, you’ll fall over.

  Sixth, we can trust God.