Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


The Journey of Grief


  Grief is not an event; it's a journey. It may last a week, a month, two years. We hear some say: "life will never be the same," and indeed it will not. There are some losses we will never get over; we just learn to live with them. So, as we start our journey, don't start with the idea of ending the journey; if we do, we'll be disappointed. Grief is a road we travel. Some sights, smells, sounds, feelings, are good some are not. But it is an interesting road with many precious memories. Enjoy!


Anticipating the Journey...


  It will affect the whole person. Grief gets Physical: It gets into our sleep patterns, affects our appetite, we can experience shortness of breath, headaches, gastrointestinal issues. Sometimes our immune system wakens making us susceptible to diseases and allergies we never had before.


  Grief is Emotional. Grieving is work, most of it mental. We'll notice there's loss of memory, a slower response time, a foggy mind, we become impatient, burdened with guilt, anger, anxious, fearful, depressed, overwhelmed with hopelessness.


  Grief affects us Relationally. We may become angry with others, others that are special to us. Perhaps because we feel they did not, or are not, doing enough for us: Spouse, doctors, ministers, clinics, friends, even God. Perhaps this is a good place to mention two things: 1) Sometimes grieving people need time alone. Don't smother them. On the other hand, be careful that this does not lead to loneliness. 2) It's alright to question God! Jesus did! On the cross He asked the "Why" question. God can handle our inquiries.


  Griefaffects us Spiritually. Sometimes in such a way we never expected, and that may scare us somewhat. I mean: It can bring us closer to Him, or it may drive us apart. Deep grief often interrupts our prayer life. We feel we just can't pray, or that God is not listening. There are reasons for both experiences that are too involved to address here, but remember this is a journey. We will travel past these feelings.


  Griefis Necessary. God has given us this mechanism to help us cope with our losses, be it as simple as a billfold, a credit card, a job, a career, our health, youth, a house or home as those in Florida's hurricane. Let me give you three "N"s in grief:

1) It's normal! It's God's gift to us to help us work our way through this loss.

2) It's natural. It's human, it's a part of our DNA.

3) Grief is necessary. Stuffing grief doesn't work. We will grieve, sooner or later, and later grief may come out as anger, sorrow, jealously, depression, guilt, etc. Sometimes we men think grief is childish, a sign of weakness. Don't let that happen! We will mourn a loss, let it happen, embrace it, walk through it.


Some things that may help our travels...


  Accept the loss. Truth can gradually set us free from the pain of grief. We've lost something or someone very special to us. Embrace the hurt, Acknowledge the pain. Be willing to travel grief's road.


  Turn to God. Every grief class I teach has a session on this point. Grief is best done with God. The Holy Spirit is here to support and help us. He knows when we are in the valley of sorrow, He knows what will bring us comfort. Indeed, there is a significant difference in the way Christians grieve. The difference is faith, hope, a confident expectation of tomorrow. "We do not want you to be uninformed brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have not hope" (1Thessalonians 4.18). I like what Vance Havner used to say to Christians who had lost a loved one; "you haven't lost anything when you know where it is."


  Express our feelings. Grief is painful! It hurts! Express it: Cry, weep, mourn, wail! Scream at God... WHY?... and don't feel guilty! There was a time in my life that this was done daily. There was release. Again, God can handle our emotional outburst.


  Accept our new identity. We are not the same person as we were before our loss, and we'll never be the same again. Accept and embrace this new self. God is at work in our life. Our new identity has the potential of our becoming greater than we were in our old identity.


  Really, when we consider the facts, grief is a neat road. And we should be thankful God has provided grief for our losses.


—Randall Caselman