Emmanuel (Noel) Villarivera
This is Part 2 in a two-part article series on dealing with grief. In the first article, we discussed three lessons that we learn from the Bible about dealing with grief. In this article, we’ll look at two more lessons the Bible teaches about grief and loss.
4. Grief is healed in community.
You’re not going to get well on your own. Nobody gets well on their own. We are better together. We need each other. When God created man and He put Adam in the Garden of Eden, he was living in a perfect environment. And yet God said, it’s not good for man to be alone.
One thing that God hates is loneliness. He made us to be in community, in relationship, to love God, and to love each other. Whether you ever get married or not is irrelevant. You need people in your life. You need relationships. You need community.
The Bible says it like this in Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” In other words, when you’re in pain I’m supposed to carry your pain. When I’m in pain you’re supposed to carry my pain. When either of us dealing with grief, we’re to carry each other’s grief. We are to support each other.
When you’re going through a tough time, when you’re going through a loss, it’s always interesting to see who shows up and who doesn’t. Some people who you expect to show up aren’t going to. And some people you didn’t expect to show up will show up to be there in your pain and grief.
There are two reasons you should not judge those people who don’t show up. First, you don’t need the resentment. And second, you don’t know what’s going on in their life. Sometimes there are fears in their life that keep them apart from you. Sometimes they’re going through something as serious as you are, so just don’t judge anybody if they don’t happen to show up when you expected them to. Just be grateful for the ones that do show up.
Romans 12:15 says this: “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they’re sad, share their sorrow.” Grief is healed in community. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. We share them with each other.
Permit me to share with you an insight I have gained over the past few months while grieving a son that I lost to suicide. Many people have come up to me in the last four months knowing about my loss. They say things like, “I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like. I lost my grandfather.” When someone is in pain, comparing your grief experience to theirs never comforts them.
With all due respect, even if you have lost a son yourself, you don’t know what it’s like for me. Everyone’s grief is different because their relationship with the person they lost is different. Attempting to console someone by comparing your grief to theirs doesn’t work because it doesn’t help them with their pain.
5. The fifth thing we learn from the Bible is that grief takes time.
Dealing with grief takes time; it isn’t overcome quickly. It has its own timetable and you cannot rush it. It’s not “I’ll give it 48 hours and then I’ve got to get back to work.” It just doesn’t happen that way.
Let me explain something to you about grief. You don’t get over grief, you get through it. You might write that one down. You will never get over the major losses in your life. But you will get through the major losses in your life. Grief is not something you get over.
If you had a baby born and it lived a week and died, you will get through that, but you won’t get over it. You will remember it for the rest of your life. It’s part of your life story. So, don’t try to get over it; try to get through it. Because grief takes time.
“There’s a time for everything. There’s a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (3:1, 4).
What the Bible is saying is that life is composed of opposites. We have good days and we have bad days. We have up days and we have down days. There’s a time to weep and there’s a time to rejoice. There’s a time to be sad and to mourn. And there’s a time to dance and party. Both are legitimate parts of life, and maturity is when you can enter into both.
If you can only enter into the parties of life and you don’t know how to grieve, you’re missing half of your life. That is the part of your life that brings about spiritual growth. You don’t grow in the parties. You grow in the valleys.
When the verse says that grief is a season, it means that it lasts more than one day. It’s more than a week. The Bible uses a phrase called “the time of mourning.” It’s used many, many times. When used of the time of mourning over the death of Moses, it was 30 days. The whole nation mourned for 30 days.
Why am I belaboring this point? Because of what we do, whenever we face a loss. Let’s say that you’ve lost your job, or you lost your boyfriend, or you’ve lost your health, or you lost a big deal, or you’ve lost your dream, or you’ve lost your faith. There are a million different things you could lose. And at that moment the temptation is we immediately want to fix it instead of just grieving the loss.
Don’t try to fix everybody the first thing out of the gate. Just grieve. That’s part of the healing process. It’s how you get on with your life.
We learn this as little kids. You go outside and you fall over, and you cut your head. Naturally, you start crying, but what is the first thing that an adult says to you? “Now, don’t cry.” You think, “Really? Don’t cry? My head is bleeding. It hurts!”
There are a lot of things worth crying about in life. Teaching your kids to just “stuff it” can be a terrible lesson for them to learn. Let them cry if they need to cry. When an adult immediately tells them to “stop crying,” it can seem like they are more interested in keeping them quiet than in taking care of their pain and providing comfort.
We must learn how to lament. What I mean is that you can’t get past your pain until you acknowledge it, accept it, feel it. Once you do that then you can get through it.
Many have had a painful or traumatic experience in life and rather than actually feeling it, actually grieving over it, actually going through the season of mourning, they just put their head down and tried to ignore it, and went on with life. Now, however, it’s popping up sideways here and there. It’s like taking a Coke bottle and shaking it up without letting the cap off. The liquid inside is going to come out one way or the other.
All kinds of bizarre behaviors, habits, fears, hang-ups, and problems come about because we don’t deal with the losses we have in life. That’s how we get stuck. It’s what happens when we want to get past our sorrow without going through it. But if we don’t go through the sorrows of life, we get stuck there.
You may have been hurt as a little kid, as a teenager, or as a young adult and if you didn’t go through the pain at that moment, then you just got stuck. And you’re stuck at the age of fifteen or twenty-six because you can’t get through it by trying to go past it. You just must go through it.
We must do what the Bible calls lament. That is to cry out to God with your pain, with your hurt, with your anger, with your complaints, and just tell God exactly how you feel.
Dealing with grief is a choice. It isn’t going to happen unless you choose to embrace it. If you deny, repress, or suppress it, you’re going to live an unhealthy life. It only happens when you choose to grieve.
Dealing with grief is healthy. It’s the only healthy response to loss. Grief is healed in humility and community, and grief takes time.
“In Tears”, Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Grieving Woman”, Courtesy of Polina Zimmerman, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “In the Stairwell”, Courtesy of David Gomes, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Grief”, Courtesy of Kat Jayne, Pexels.com, CC0 License