Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good grief

This week I attended another seminar on grief.  (Good grief!  Why in the world does she keep going to  those things?  Isn’t she done grieving by now?)  I went because after Anna died, I wanted to know everything I could about grief--and I still do.  
Am I doing this right?  
Is this normal?  
How can I do this better?  
How can I help other people who are grieving?  
In the last four years, I have attended several grief groups--most of them approached grief psychologically instead of spiritually.  Most of them were not very helpful.

The world tells me to comfort myself by taking a walk, visualizing my ‘happy place,‘ making a craft, listening to music, writing a poem, hugging a tree, taking care of a pet, or touching my heart and saying, ‘Bless you.  Be healed.’  (I am not making these up.  These are actual suggestions from grief 'experts.')    After Anna died, I realized there was no amount of food, no gifts, no trips, no happy place, no pets, no trees, no NOTHING that could touch the pain that I felt.  So where did my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord.  For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives, so also Christ’s comfort overflows.  

The day after Anna died (before consulting the grief experts) I asked God how I was supposed to go on living and his answer was VERY clear.  He did not say, “keep a journal, seek a therapist, breathe deeply, drink tea, listen to music.”  Those are comforts that the world offers and they are nice, but the comfort they provide is temporary.  What God told me was, “Do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Those were my instructions, 
Change your perspective.  
See what I see.  
Trust me.  
Why would I seek comfort in alcohol, sex or hugging a tree when I have the GOD OF ALL COMFORT waiting to comfort me?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  That’s a promise straight from the mouth of Christ.  The blessing is not anything I can see or touch.  The blessing comes from drawing close to the God of all comfort and pouring out my heart to him like water and holding his hand as I walk through the valley.  The blessing comes from getting out of bed in His strength and not my own.  The blessing comes from comforting someone else with the comfort I have received.  The blessing is the hope that I have in HIM.

Recently I met a woman who told me that she had tried a grief support group and hated it.  She said the people in the group sat around crying and she couldn’t deal with everyone else’s pain in addition to her own.  I wasn’t sure she would like our group because we sometimes cry and we share our stories, but I invited her anyway.  After the meeting I asked her what she thought and she said, “This group is different.  This group has hope.”  She could see a difference in the way we grieve because we grieve with HOPE!  When someone dies, Christians experience just as much pain, depression, despair, regret, and fear as the next person, but we acknowledge God’s sovereignty and that he has a bigger picture than we can see.  We accept that this life is not all there is.  We focus on Heaven and what is to come.  And eventually, we are able to stop asking “Why?” and start asking, “What are you doing in this situation, Lord?”  
And through it all we are transformed by our grief.  
Hope makes a difference.  
It changes everything.

PS.  If you are looking to connect with those who are grieving with hope, check out for a group in your area.


Jeff Whitfield said...

This is quite profound and could have only been said by one who i experiencing comfort from the God of all comfort.

Liz said...

As I read this, I couldn't help but think of GriefShare & wondered if that was what you were talking about. My husband & I started the local GriefShare group when he was in full-time ministry at a local church. GREAT ministry!!