Handling Grief

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Grief


How do you handle and even heal grief?

Response (staff answer):

The first healing idea that comes to mind is the promise of Jesus’ Beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4 NIV). Phillips translates it this way: “How happy are those who know what sorrow means for they will be given courage and comfort!”

“Blessed” and “happy” are not necessarily words we think of when we are grieving. In fact, grief usually includes such emotions as shock/disbelief, denial, pain, anger, depression, and then finally acceptance/hope. But Jesus said “blessed,” which means happy. So even when it seems darkest, there must be a blessing from grief; we somehow receive the promised comfort.

So how do we find and feel this comfort? Well, Isaiah told us that it’s God who comforts: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted” (Is 66:13 NIV). First, we look to God. Grief would have us look to loss—whether it’s a loss of a loved person or pet, a loss of a marriage or job, a loss of whatever it happens to be.

It’s okay to feel what we feel, but we don’t want to get stuck in grief, in pain or lack, in sorrow and depression. There’s always a way up and out of such emotions—and that’s God. So we let God comfort us. We allow ourselves to feel God’s encircling arms. We trust in the shelter of God’s tender care of us and our loved ones.

We also actively practice gratitude. We find things for which to be grateful. We can be grateful for the time we had with someone, or for the qualities they expressed and shared with us. We can be grateful that even if one door seems closed, God always will open another one; there are always more opportunities. We can be grateful for the sunshine, for the leaves, and even for the rain or snow. We can be grateful for a friend who offers support, for a funny story that makes us laugh, for a meal, for being able to think and pray. We simply cannot underestimate the power of gratitude. It is gratitude that helps to get us out of the pit, that shines the light. Gratitude turns our thought towards God, who is blessing us with comfort and courage.

We are blessed because God is strengthening us, enabling us to claim victory over grief. Instead of letting grief pull us down, we rise above with God—with the strength of God. Remember those words: “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Phil 4:13 GNT). We seek the blessing. We express courage. We face our fears, the emotions of loss.

We also can decide to see whatever the situation is as an opportunity to feel closer to God. We can’t let a human loss deprive us of God. Nor can we lose good, since God is giving us good all the time. Grief would certainly try to say we’ve lost something incredibly valuable to us, that we’ve been separated. But God is always with us, and God is with those who have passed on. God is with us as we search for a new job. God is with us if we’re working through divorce. God is with everyone, comforting and strengthening us all.

Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor 1:3, 4 NIV). Let’s argue for and trust in the power of God’s comfort to lift us up and out, to strengthen and renew us. And a beautiful blessing that follows is that when we successfully get to the other side of grief, when we’ve been healed of sorrow, we are more compassionate with others who find themselves struggling with loss. We are able to help comfort and strengthen them.

And as this month is Easter, we have the promise of the resurrection. The events leading up to the resurrection were not easy, not happy, not comfortable, to say the least. But Jesus met the crucifixion with courage and strength and trust in God’s comforting, mothering care for him and those who loved him. What a gift—to see that sorrow, pain, loss, even death do not win. The glory of the resurrection morning dispels the gloom of grief—and can do so in an instant!

God’s tender, mothering, comforting care is with us all always, strengthening us. We can expect that promise to be fulfilled.