The Work of Grief
The thought of death is the most terrifying thought to think about for most of us. We often attempt to avoid thoughts of death at all costs as the sadness and fear that it brings to our minds, bodies and spirits is so powerfully painful and frightening that its almost intolerable to think about, so we banish thoughts of death and pretend it won't happen to us. Most of us don't think about it unless we have to, unless someone we love dies.
But is it healthy to attempt to avoid thoughts of death?
The Bible states in Psalm 90:12:
"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
The last thing I want to do is number my days, actually I want to do the opposite, never think about it at all! Why would Moses teach us this? David also suggest that we should do this, in Psalm 39:4 he says, "Lord make me to know my end and [to appreciate] the measure of my days- what it is- let me know and realize how frail I am [how transient is my stay here]."
King Solomon teaches us in Ecclesiastes chapter 7, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to heart."
The truth is, when we apply the principles Moses, David and Solomon where attempting to teach us, we find that we become even more alive. More alive to feel, to feel love and give love, to feel joy and bring joy, to feel appreciation, respect, concern and admiration for those we care for. Petty things become more obsolete, what's important becomes more apparent. Our thoughts come into focus, our minds clearer, we enter into the present easier. Our senses become heightened and we are able to take in all that is sacred around us.
Life is suddenly abundant all around us. And the thought that seems to bring fear, numbering our days, actually increases our ability to feel joy, to remember and pay attention to what is most important!
Death knocks on all our doors eventually. The grief that comes as a result of death is so overwhelming to our senses that we feel like we are the ones dying. It is felt in every cell of our being. Breathing is hard, living seems impossible. But somehow the body heals. We are designed to heal from loss as we were created to die and live eternally with God. Although that thought barely infiltrates my mind when I am in the throes of grief. More likely I'm cursing God and questioning His nature and goodness.
But grief has a beginning, a middle and an end. We will heal if we allow ourselves the right to grieve.
Grief comes in waves of feelings that seem to switch rapidly from shock, denial and anger, to failure, disgust and confusion to fear, sorrow and heartbreak to giddiness, anxiousness and happiness, or any other number of feelings a human being can experience.
The key is to accept them all, they all are right, they all are okay. They are all passing, moving you from one moment to the next. Let yourself experience them, trusting that this is the healing that is necessary.
God remembers all your tears, He keeps them in a bottle, He is close to the brokenhearted and His promise is that He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish, sorrow or mourning, nor grief, nor pain anymore and death shall be swallowed up in victory! (Psalm 56, 34, Rev 21 & 1st Cor 15).
The most important thing to remember when loss comes is that it's okay to need comfort. Comfort is what makes grief bearable. Comfort eases pain. Romans 12:15 states: " Rejoice with those who rejoice (sharing others joy) and weep with those who weep (sharing others grief). Note- it didn't say judge, make excuses, attempt to fix, be placating or minimizing, it said weep! What does that mean? It means let yourself feel, experience and be with that person in their time of grief. What do you want when you are hurting? To be held, to be loved, to be supported, to be nurtured and to be understood is what we all desire. That is comfort.
You wouldn't want to be pushed through your pain, try not to do that to others. Also, allow and receive comfort in your time of loss. If you don't let people comfort you and admit that you need comforting, you'll likely get stuck in your grief and your grief will turn into hopelessness and depression. Let people love you through it. If you don't have "people", find them. Grief shares, Healing Rooms and counselors are excellent resources.
Remember 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4:
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God who is the source of every comfort (consolation and encouragement). Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in any kind of trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God."
And finally, anticipate your healing! It will come. This is promised to us. Remember Psalm 126 5-6:
"They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. He who goes forth bearing seed and weeping shall doubtless come again with rejoicing.."
He will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast(1st Peter 5:10).
Take hold of life today, remember how precious it is and let go of fear. You are part of a plan that will come to pass, trust life, trust yourself, and trust God to bring you through it.