Beyond Grief

   Loss of people we love is the stark reality of this wicked world. After a death, people seem to go through several stages on the way to restoration of normalcy. You may have read about them. Grief is very real and it's not wrong to miss someone. I'd like to mention a few pitfalls along the path and suggest how to find the brighter side of life again.
   While it's proper to weep, it is also good to grasp the hand of omnipotence and to rise to a fresh outlook on life. If you don't know the Lord very well, I can only suggest that this is a time to try Him out. I'd encourage you to read His book, lifting your heart toward heaven. Of course you need the human touch, too.

   First, relax and take on an attitude of forgiveness. Yes, you might have missed opportunity to say certain things to your loved one or to do certain things. It's not too late to explain it to God, however, so you can ask His forgiveness and you can forgive yourself. Life goes forward. We can't turn the calendar back. Trying draws a cloud over the joy of the present and the future. Then you can forgive others who may have brought on the tragedy.
   I can remember one of my two cousins being killed at about age 12. I would have been about 6. She was coming home from the store on her bicycle and a drunk driver hit her. Her mother, my aunt, felt the loss since she may have been closer to the daughter than to others around her. This was not wrong. But she grieved for the next 50 or 60 years until her own death. She was cheerful and all that but she kept thinking of Rayona. She treasured every picture and other items and often spoke of the girl. Although it's right to remember, I believe God had a brighter path that she could have walked in, and it's tied to forgiveness.
   It's also a temptation to blame God. Why did He let it happen? Where was He when you needed Him? Could He not have healed your loved one? We may not see His hand today but we know that the angel of the Lord camps around those who fear (respect) Him, and He delivers them (Psalm 34:7). While He protects, He also allows sorrow. As we stay close to Him, all that happens will be for our good (although we may not understand now) (Rom. 8:28). While He brought Peter out of prison, He allowed John the Baptist to be beheaded. The attitude of forgiveness helps us not to blame God for the work of Satan.
   I should also mention the danger of the spiritualistic seance where a spirit medium pretends to bring a loved one back from the dead to talk with you. The deception is very convincing because things only you and your loved one would know are often mentioned by the spirit. I discuss this elsewhere 1209b.

Finding the sunshine
   Let me share a wonderful promise Jesus made. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30).
   We come burdened and just give it to Him. This doesn't mean we deny the reality of our loss. It means that we put it into the perspective of the One who faced eternal separation from the Father in our place! He died that we might live. He suffered that we might have joy. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. . . ." (Isa. 53:4). Let's often claim His gift of joy (John 15:11; 16:20). Philippians 2 is a great chapter to read.
   Back to Jesus' promise in Matt. 11. What does He ask us to do? First we come. What a privilege it is to pray. Then we learn of Him. We learn of Him through the Word. His meekness means that when he was brought to the trials before His crucifixion, He was ". . . oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isa. 53:7). That kind of meekness doesn't come naturally. We have to pray for it claiming the promise about the yoke. Then we learn that He was "lowly in heart." He wasn't proud. I'm sure He recognized His physical and emotional needs, but He didn't dwell on them. His mind was on helping others, and this is a pattern we can copy by His grace.
   People sometimes try to keep the memory of a loved one by leaving everything in the bedroom or other part of the house the way it was before his or her passing. This makes their mourning continue on and on. Instead, they can give away the clothes, change the room around giving it a fresh touch. I'm not suggesting we never mention our loved one or that we dispose of everything associated with him. It's just that we make a fresh start, opening the windows of our minds toward heaven.
   Then we must seek ways to make others happy and, in the process, we find the deeper happiness in Christ. It's the peace that passes understanding. We can't weary Him by our prayers. His line is never busy. One day we will understand it all. For now, we can trust. What a precious Saviour we have!

   You might enjoy studying what the Bible actually says about death. Over the centuries, tradition has gotten mixed into the common explanations. This page is part of a Bible commentary. At various places I have discussed the topic of death. Just click on the flower line above and follow the links. May The Lord be close to you and give you strength.

   To pray, just talk to God like you would to a friend. Tell Him you want help and you want His peace in your heart.