The cards and letters have stopped coming. Everyone else has moved on. They are able to laugh at the jokes in the movie. They enjoy their rainy days as much as the sunny ones. But not you. Every morning you wake up and it still hurts, just like it did months or even years ago. The holidays only seem to make it more difficult.
How can they move on? Don’t they understand how hard this loss was? Am I the only one who feels this way?
Grieving is one of those unique things that hits almost every person in a different way. We’ve been given stages of grief like shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But not everyone experiences all of these stages, and there’s no “time-table” to overcoming our deep losses and hurts.
So how do we move through grief if we don’t know exactly what stages to expect, or how long it will last? This is where the Gospel can step in. The gospel does not tell us to ignore the pain or try to spiritualize it away. But it does tell us that we can grieve differently.
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. –1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
We all get stuck for a lot of different reasons, but over an over again I’m finding that the solution to moving again is found in properly grieving our losses. Grieving with hope. What does that mean?
There’s a lot to this, but here are a few things to consider as you deal with great loss or help those who are dealing with great loss.
- Give yourself “space” to grieve. There’s no specific recipe to grief recovery. It amazing how everyone handles grief in different ways. You may be tempted to try and force yourself to move on, when in reality you need to take time to reflect, cry, and share. Sometimes when looking from the outside in, we think someone should be “done” with grieving and pressure them to get over it, when what they really need is the space to hurt even in our presence. Which leads directly to the next truth…
- Grieving is not done in isolation. I think I’m most amazed when people are willing to come and share their hurts with their church family even when everything within them is telling them to isolate. Just sitting in your room by yourself over and over will not help you work through your grief. God built us for relationship and that’s part of the point in the Thessalonians passage. We don’t grieve alone. If you’re the one grieving, find a group where you can be accepted even in the midst of your hurt and just show up. As you’re able to share your stories, you’ll find healing beginning to make it’s way back into your life.
- Grieving is best done through an eternal perspective. Did you catch that above? Jesus died and rose again. This is why we can grieve differently. The gospel reminds us that the kingdom is here and now, and the kingdom is coming. God is recreating and redeeming. He is making all things new. Yes, you’ve lost, but God can work that loss to His glory and even your good. It’s not over – it’s only just beginning. Our Lord is alive and He has conquered death and the grave! Don’t go quoting Romans 8:28 to someone who has just suffered a great loss, but through your living help remind them that we have so much to look forward to.
- You are not alone. There are so many people on the planet who have worked through grief and are working through grief. You aren’t alone. Even more – God gave His only son for you. He suffered that you might gain. Our Lord understands. Even Jesus himself expressed his hurts. But the wonderful truth of the gospel is this – He cares for you.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priestwho is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:12-14
Come join us for our unStuck series on Sundays and Wednesdays in January and February as we work at moving forward again.