The world today has become a cesspool of agony. Divorce, murder, and disease plague modern society like never before. International tragedies take place on an almost daily basis, leaving thousands of people around the people hurting and questioning why. All of this results in an alarming amount of people experiencing what we know as grief. This leaves us with a simple question. How can we help those who are grieving and how can we better understand grief to deal with it ourselves?
The first step to the question is to look at grief itself; grief is defined as deep sorrow. Grief is the resulting experience when one looses something that is dear to them. The level of grief experienced is dependent upon one’s emotional connection and relationship with what has been lost.
We must also look at the response to grief in society. Within the American society grief has become almost taboo. Nationally we understand that having a good time is typically the result of spending time with friends and family enjoying some form of entertainment. But, grief is almost viewed as a singular problem of a particular person. We understand that laughing is meant to be done socially but crying or expressing sorrow is to be handled privately. If one is experiencing some level of grief, stereotypically we understand this to be a problem they must deal with. Culture’s fix to grief is simply ignoring the problem and having a good time. Forget what has been lost and focus on the hear and now. This is a self-centered, selfish mentality that has somehow crept its way into national society. Grief is apart of life and must be experienced and worked through. The Bible tells us that Jesus wept at the loss of someone dear to him.
Within the consumeristic mentality ingrained into modern society the obvious fix for people is to simply replace what has been lost. If a child losses a stuffed animal that they have become connected with our first fix to the problem is to get a new one. The problem with this is two fold: First, we are inadvertently embedding a thought process with the child that problems can fixed and grief can be handled by simply replacing what has been lost, and secondly this really doesn’t fix the actual problem. The child lost something dear to them replacing it with something new may work to get the kid to stop crying, but innately they still long for the stuffed animal they have become close to. This is exactly how modern society views grief, but the problem is it doesn’t fix anything. One cannot simply replace a failed marriage, a lost loved one or a best friend. While sure people can remarry, memorials can be erected, and new friends can be made. Yet, this only acts as a small bandage on a gaping wound, and it still does not replace the memories or feelings.
The first step toward working through grief is understanding that it is okay and its normal. As Christians we know that we have a Comforter whom we can lean on. The Bible gives countless references to relying on God in our time of need. During our darkest times of grief is often when God is at His closest to us. We may not ever have all the answers to why but faith in God restores our meaning. Often times grief, especially when it is traumatic, stripes a individual of a sense of purpose or personal meaning. Dr. James Dobson states in his book, When God Doesn’t Makes Sense; “Interestingly enough, pain and suffering do not cause the greatest damage. Confusion is the factor that shreds one’s faith… for it is the absence of meaning and that makes their situation so intolerable.” The “Why’s” or “What If’s” are often times the most detrimental to dealing with grief.
Healing comes when a individual makes the choice to trust God and allow Him to use past hurts to draw them into a deeper relationship with Him and ultimately use these things to fulfill His purpose for our life. Some things are simply beyond the scope of human verbiage and human understanding. When we take a step back and are willing to give God complete control to finish the work that He is doing in our lives then are we as Christians able to work through our grief. We must understand that God does want the best for us and His way is better than ours. After all, God took on human flesh and suffered more and any man just so we could have life, and have it more abundantly; He sacrificed Himself for all abundant life of humanity.