Handling Grief Part 3 Not All Christians Get it
Not All Christians Get It
Some Christians have mistakenly thought that grief demonstrates a lack of faith. That way they feel the need to maintain strength rather than deal honestly with painful loss. Others simply cannot understand the depth of pain that widows, orphans and bereaved parents exhibit. It’s as if they want things to get back to normal! That normal doesn’t exist any more for the bereaved family or person, and it never will.
Others will even quote the verse and lustily sing it alongside a grieving widow in church: ‘Oh grave, where is your victory, oh death, where is your sting?’ We have seen this in the previous chapter: death stings and stings bad and proper. Understanding of that scripture might make a big difference in how we treat those in our churches who are grieving.
I said to Gill at one point, ‘Wouldn’t it just help to cry more and get it over?’ She replied, ‘It’s like a bucket trying to empty an ocean. That’s how much difference it would actually make. Good grief is necessary, biblical, godly, and to be encouraged. In Chapter 11, we looked at the words of Jesus himself: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ That is both a promise from the lips of the all-powerful creator and it is also an invitation to the people of God to be part of that comfort. Either way, for there to be the promised comfort there has to be mourning. Mourning is tears, loud cries, shouts, unimaginable pain and a continuing dark, shadowy, overcast sense of loss.
‘Good grief doesn’t go away. You can supress it, ignore it, busy it away, hide from it, run from it, but it will lay there hidden away until one day it will find its own way out.’6
Good grief is the grief that enables us to make the transition to a new phase of existence. Yes, the widow must learn to live alone and the parents must bear the unimaginable sense of loneliness brought on by the death of their son or daughter. Siblings must struggle as the often-forgotten mourners, as they lose the love of their brother or sister; and children perhaps toughest of all, must handle the loss of one or both parents. Grief that deals honestly with the pain is part of the healing process.
So life will never be ‘normal’ again. It is said often, and it’s very true – you don’t move on, you move forward with your grief. Some bereaved folk say it is like losing a limb – you will never be fully healed but you learn to live differently and learn to adapt.
Grief disables you. You can still do things, but your abilities are not what they were. I think that Gill’s and my mental acuity is running at around 70 per cent of normal. Our physical and emotional strength and well-being probably less than 70 per cent. That’s the reality of grief. I still have a rainbow of emotions. I still do have red, blue, indigo, but now there’s a band of black that was not there before – part of my life is black now.
Stephen Curtis Chapman, talking about his album The Glorious Unfolding, described the pain that doubles up as we wake up each day to the fresh awareness of loss. Wondering if he would scream enough that his voice would go. Like Gill and me, he forced himself to say, ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’. As the book of Job tells us The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1.31 ESV