Grieving Well

      It happened again yesterday.  I was ambushed by grief.  I was at a luncheon and an acquaintance mentioned that she would be attending her father’s 90th birthday party soon.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes, but I was able to keep the conversation going.  My father died this summer and I never know when that grief will get triggered.  My loss is fresh; maybe yours is older or still on its way, but all of us face grief at times.  How do we deal with loss well?  I want to use the acrostic P.E.A.C.E. to help us remember some keys to grieving well.
      P. is for PROCESS.   Grief is never finished with a funeral.  If you suffer a serious loss, grief takes time.  The stages of grief are commonly described as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (Kubler-Ross Model).  While helpful for people to see common experiences, I would say that every grief journey is unique, and for Christians, permeated by hope.   Remember that grief is not a moment but a movement towards wholeness.
      E. is for Express Grief.  Bottling up grief feelings is like trying to hold a large inflated ball under water; it will pop up eventually.  The Bible includes a book called Lamentations and many of the psalms are expressions of lament and grief.  King Solomon tells us there is a time to mourn, weep and speak (Ecclesiastes 3:4, 7).  One exercise to consider is to read through the Psalms out loud.  Connect with the grief David expressed.  Pray honestly to God. There is no need to edit your prayers to Him; He knows what you are thinking anyway.  Your intense feelings are windows to your heart; it is ok to express them.    Science even tells us that emotional tears are therapeutic. 
      A. is for Accept.  Accept help from others.  Do not isolate, lean into your community.  Your friends do not have to be eloquent; they can just be present.  Author Andrew Bauman said on a podcast after the loss of his son, “I don’t want to be fixed.  I want to be known.”  Isn’t that enough?  
      C.  is for Christ.  Our approach to healing is more than natural responses; Christians serve a supernatural Savior who can help.  We rely on a Savior who suffered; He understands.  He experienced massive losses, betrayal by Judas, denial by Peter, abandoned by the rest of the apostles, rejection by most of God’s chosen people to name a few.  Scripture promises that Jesus is the one who “binds up the brokenhearted” and “comforts those who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1,2).  It is hard to articulate, but Jesus has walked with me in my loss in a supernatural way.  We are promised that eventually we will trade our ashes for the oil of joy and our mourning for the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).   As you grieve reach for the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.  
      E. is for Encourage others.  As we begin to heal it is important to turn and bless others.  This turn helps them and us as well.  The recovery movement discovered the power of this role of the wounded healer.  The parents who have lost a child to death is best suited to come alongside others facing this loss.  Both are blessed by these selfless interactions.
      If you are grieving, know that God sees you and loves you deeply.  He will walk with you to wholeness.  You will thrive and flourish again. 
Pastor Derek Dickinson