No matter what losses I experience, in my life, I know that nothing can separate me from Your loving Presence!
– Jesus Listens, October 21
When you are grieving, it can feel like that single emotion controls every aspect of your life. From your relationships and physical health to your ability to work or do the simplest tasks, grief is ever present. If you don’t have proper care and a plan of action, grief will assume control of your life. But before you can take effective action, it’s essential to understand the strong emotions you’re feeling.
Want to understand grief a little more? These are six things you need to remember:
1. Grief Is Universal
We feel grief so personally that it’s easy to think we are alone in our suffering. But sooner or later, everyone will feel the sting of grief.
Remind yourself there are others in your life who are also in pain. Seek out others who may be struggling, starting with your faith community. The idea that Christians have some special protection from suffering is a myth, and when people spread this falsehood, it can damage the faith of those who suffer. God’s story is a story of suffering. If Christians want to reflect Christ, there’s no avoiding the fact that we will suffer.
2. Loss Changes Us
Every experience we have in life changes us to some degree. A significant loss will have a lifelong impact on the survivor. It’s fair to say that most of us expect people to grieve the loss of a loved one, but many are not informed about the persistence of grief or the importance of long-term care. The friends of a survivor might expect him or her to get on with life as usual after a certain amount of time, believing the adage that “time heals all wounds.” Grief will always be part of the survivor, and while the effects of loss may subside, grief will still be present.
3. People Will Accidentally Say Hurtful Things
There are so many things that we don’t understand about our world, and for many people, suffering is at the top of that list. When we suffer a loss, we find ourselves in alien territory. Most of us are never taught strategies to handle grief. It can be easy to forget that our family and friends find themselves in the same situation. We turn to them to support us in ways they normally have no training for, and it can be scary to support a friend in grief. That fear can lead others to say the wrong thing or avoid us altogether. It might seem unfair, but even in your grief, you need to show grace to others who don’t know how to respond to your loss.
4. You Are Going to Feel Alone Sometimes
When we grieve, it’s easy to feel abandoned by people and by God. It’s easy (and normal) to feel like no one understands us or that they don’t notice our pain. We’d like to think that the people in our lives would be proactive and reach out to care for us. While some people are wired to care for others, the sad fact is that most will need you to seek them out for support. God is a different story. He will always show up in times of grief. We need simply look around to see and feel him. God is prepared for our anger and our questions. He understands that we are designed for eternal life and that the struggles of our earthly life are beyond our ability to withstand alone.
5. Grief Can Be Your Biggest Platform
With every wound life brings, believers can show the world the way their lives reflect their faith and the redemptive character of God. People often see only the pain and darkness of grief. You can use your grief to reflect love and light by inviting people into your healing process to see the way God, Scripture, and your faith community sustain you. Nonbelievers need examples of people who are able to walk through the hardest parts of life while maintaining an eternal perspective. You have an amazing opportunity to show the world that God is real, loving, and sustaining even through the difficult parts of life.
6. Grief Can Bring You Closer to God
In grief, we choose to move toward God or away from God. When Job found out that his world had been destroyed, he went and worshiped God. This reaction might seem strange to us at first until we realize that because Job loved God and because of his relationship with God, he knew where he had to go. Invest in time with God and decide how he fits in your life so that, during times of pain and suffering beyond your ability to endure, faith will drive you to God for support.
About The Author
Lee Bailey-Seiler serves as the operations director for Five Stone Media and Chief Curriculum Developer for LifeSupport. Having experienced the transformation from addiction through Christ-centered recovery ministry, Lee knows firsthand that hopelessness is overcome when survivors share their stories of struggle and redemption. Lee is the co-author of God Is Always With You, available now.