The death of your loved one may have been anticipated, coming after a long illness. Or it may have been so sudden that it was totally unexpected. Whatever the cause, death is unwelcome. Living with grief is a tough assignment, perhaps one of the most difficult things we are called on to do. How to cope with grief and work through those difficult days, weeks, and months is perhaps life’s greatest challenge. Here are some things you can do to ease the burden of your bereavement.
1. Admit the reality of your loved one’s death—don’t deny it. Grieving is natural and normal. Even Jesus wept at the death of a friend (John 11:35). You have to face up to the fact that he or she is no longer here with you.
2. Weep—don’t bottle it up. If a feeling of loss and loneliness sweeps over you, don’t hold back the tears. They are therapeutic. It is unwise to resist grieving.
3. Talk about your loved one—don’t bottle things up. Find friends and relatives who are willing to listen. Feel free to discuss with them your loved one’s wonderful qualities and your delightful experiences.
4. Think of where your loved one is— don’t forget. If your relative was a believer, think of the wonderful fact that he or she is in heaven. As Paul wrote, to “depart and be with Christ . . . is better by far” (Phil. 1:23), better than this life. Think of the fact that your loved one’s pain is ended and his or her limitations are gone.
5. Read Scripture and meditate on it— don’t neglect the Word. The Scriptures can be a source of great comfort. Jesus said, “I will be with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Paul wrote that believers, though they grieve the loss of loved ones, do not grieve as the unsaved do, who “have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). As you read the Psalms, underline and meditate on the verses that are especially meaningful to you.
6. Keep busy—don’t be idle. Failing to follow this admonition, some people have become increasingly sad and morbid. Find some things to keep you occupied—a part-time or full-time job, volunteering, tutoring, exercising, being involved in church activities, going on errands, doing house chores and yardwork, walking. These and other activities won’t remove the pain of your loss, but they can help you live with the pain more easily.
7. Work through the stages of grief—don’t brush them aside. Counselors tell us that when we grieve we go through stages—shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance. If you are reacting to your loss in one of these ways, remember that this is normal. As one person put it, we need to realize that our grief is not something we get over, but something we go through.
8. Pray—don’t ignore the fellowship God offers you. Talking with God can bring comfort to your soul and relief to your burden. Tell Him how you feel, and ask friends and family what needs of theirs you can pray for. He loves you and wants to hear from you. Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).
9. Remember that you will see your believing loved one again—don’t forget it. Take comfort in the fact that the separation from your loved one is not permanent; it’s temporary. You will see him or her again. Like all believers in Christ, he or she will receive a resurrection body when Jesus returns in the Rapture. Thankfully someday death will be destroyed (Isa. 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:26), and God will vanquish our grief (Rev. 21:4)
Death is inevitable. The Bible repeatedly mentions the brevity of life, comparing it to a flower (Job 14:2a), a shadow (Job 8:9b), and grass that withers (Ps 90:5). The number of our days is determined by God (Job 14:5). For us the death of a loved one is disquieting and distasteful, but for the Lord it is a delight because He has another trophy of His grace in His presence forever. That’s why “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15). Though our days are few (Job 14:1) and death is inexorable, God will release us “from the power of the grave” (Hos. 13:14). We can rejoice as we look forward to that day when we will bewith our loved ones again—and with the Lord—for all eternity!
Adapted from the tract, Coping with Grief, by Dr. Roy B. Zuck. Available from The American Tract Society at www.atstracts.org.