Grief is the normal reaction to any significant loss – be it the loss of a person, an object, or an opportunity. The uneasiness and distress produced by grief can be overwhelming; it can affect not only the emotions and thought patterns of the person experiencing grief, but can manifest itself in their behavior, relationships, physical health, and spirituality.
A person who has suffered great loss will often, consciously or unconsciously, seek permission from others to grieve. If this is not given (if they feel it is not “OK to cry”) the griever may withhold their expressions of emotion and the entire healing process may be hindered – inability to express grief prevents its resolution. A grieving person needs reassurance that their feelings are authentic and deserve attention – that their pain is real and needs healing.
“In times of bereavement, an individual usually has more intense spiritual thoughts than normal, whether in the form of increased dependence on God or of increased questioning of God.” (Carter, Mind Over Emotions, p 71) “To many it seems either God’s love, His power, or His Word is called into question.” (Harry Kilbride, 1995, “Where Was God When Mary Was Murdered?” p 4) Many want to know why “bad things have to happen;” why God “allowed this to happen now.” There are no easy answers to the deep questions so often raised by people experiencing grief. In our finite, human understanding of God’s infinite ways, we may never have an answer (easy or otherwise) to the question “WHY?”
The grieving person needs to be given hope – hope that someday life will again have meaning, that someday the intense pain will lessen. However, at times, “successful” mourning can take more than a year. Effectual healing has not taken place until the griever finally reaches a point where they can face reminders of their loss without being overwhelmed by the pain.
“Research repeatedly confirms that one of the most significant factors contributing to the failure to appropriately resolve grief is the absence and/or inappropriateness of social support and interaction.” (Rando, Grief, Dying, and Death, p 82) Persons experiencing the ordeal of grief need a support structure of family and/or friends who can offer consistent comfort and compassion on an ongoing basis. This support can be given in the form of a “listening ear,” a card, a phone call, an invitation out for a meal – simply the reassurance that someone is there for them.
God is the “God of all comfort,” and Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Dr. Graham Abley
ADVANCE Christian Counseling
Graham A. Abley, Ph.D.
690 Callaway Dr. Beaumont, TX 77706 409-860-3907
Providing Christian Faith-Based Counseling in Southeast Texas