To say grief is complex is an understatement. It is difficult to experience, hard to process, and challenging to know what to do or say when someone you love is in the midst of it. In recent months, so many of you have shared your stories of heartbreak and grief with us. We want you to know that we see you, we hear you, and we are praying for you. If you, your church, or someone you know is walking through grief, we want to help. That’s why we created a completely free resource with encouragement, practical guidance, and suggestions of more thorough resources to help you on this journey.
The Lifeway Women Grief Resource is here to help you as you lead through grief, grieve yourself, and support friends or family who are grieving. During the coming weeks, we will be sharing sections of this resource on our blog. You can click here to download the complete PDF or scroll down to view the full resource at the bottom of this page.
Help for the Grieving
First, let us say, we are so sorry for your loss. We want to walk with you in this journey of grief, to help carry your burden with the ministry of presence through this resource. Grief is like a river, but not a river you cross—grief is like a river you walk through upstream. Sometimes the river is deep and cold, and you feel like you will drown. Other times, the water is more calm and shallow, and the sun is on your face. If you have suffered a significant loss, you will likely walk in that river a very long time. But the early stages are the most difficult and the most profound. It is healthy and important to face grief head on and step into the depths of that river. In this next section, we have provided some resources for you to consider as you begin this journey.
How do I deal with my grief?
The following ideas and resources might be a comfort to you as you face this loss and the changes it brings.
- Join a Grief Share group at a local church. A Grief Share group provides a sacred space to grieve with others who understand. You may think it might make you sadder to be with fellow grievers, but the experience has proven to be a comfort to thousands of people on a grief journey. A Grief Share group helps you to know what to expect, what is normal, and how to manage your grief through its stages.
- Process your grief. It is important to process your grief with others, whether it is a good friend, a pastor or lay person in your church, or a professional counselor. In the early stages, this may be very hard. But when you are ready, talking about your loved one, looking at photos, and expressing what they mean to you can be very therapeutic.
- Read books to understand what you are going through. There are many amazing books and resources on grief with helpful information. Whether you are looking for a devotional to read day by day, accounts of others who have been there before, or a workbook to practically take steps toward healing, options abound. Note: Some of the following suggestions are not Christian books but are foundational books on grief. See more options in the “Resources” section as well.
- The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman
- On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
- A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
- Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
- Find a good counselor. Counseling can be an incredible tool and help during this difficult time and beyond. An unbiased person can be a guide as you process and heal.
- While anyone can benefit from counseling, how do you know if you really need to speak to a counselor? If you become depressed, you should seek out a counselor. What does that look like? Prolonged or intense grief can develop into circumstantial depression. Symptoms of depression can include having trouble getting out of bed, a lack of motivation to function or do most basic tasks, disrupted eating patterns, or a lack of energy. Sometimes it’s hard to discern if you are just really sad or depressed. One way to combat depression is to process your loss with a grief or another type of counselor.
- How do I find a counselor?
- If you are involved with a church, check with your pastor or someone on the pastoral staff to see if there is a counselor they can refer you to. Many churches have established relationships with trusted counselors.
- The American Association of Christian Counselors is a great resource. Visit aacc.net to search in your area for a counselor.
- Programs like Celebrate Recovery are also recommended, and more websites like aapc.org and biblicalcounseling.com can help you find a counselor in your area. Focus on the Family also has a help center you can call or contact via their website family.org.
Managing Day to Day
People want to help you in your time of grief, but they don’t always know how. People who have not experienced great loss do not understand and want to help but do not know the right thing to say and sometimes say insensitive hurtful things like “You will get over it” or “you can marry again” or “you can have another child” and the like. When you receive well-intentioned but hurtful remarks, it can be helpful to create a brief response to shift the conversation such as:
- That’s not going to work for me.
- I’m still struggling. Please just pray for me.
Be kind to yourself. Grief is work, and it can be exhausting. Make sure you are getting good sleep and exercise. Be intentional about this and create boundaries around these practices. Seek a support group if you do not have one. When you are grieving, it is not a good time for isolation.The Bible tells us to bear one another’s burdens, and when you are going through grief, you need gentle support from at least a few friends to help get you through. Even if you are sheltering at home during the pandemic, you can ask friends or family to reach out to you through the phone or computer. As we mentioned above, some people truly want to help you, but they don’t know what to do to help. You may have to ask for specific types of support that you need most. Ask! They will likely be so happy to be able to DO something that you need that they wouldn’t have come up with on their own.
Paige Clayton is the Author Relations Specialist for Lifeway Women and also leads their destination events. She led the women’s events team for LIfeway for 14 years and recently shifted roles so she can spend less time traveling, and more time pursuing licensure as a professional counselor. She is currently a master’s level professional counselor at Lantern Lane Farm in Mt. Juliet, TN. In her spare time, she is a fun aunt to four young adult nieces. Paige is mom to her Instagram-posing dog Ruby and loves singing, being outdoors, and spending time with her friends and family.
A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.
Dark Clouds Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop
Untangling Emotions by Alasdair Groves & Winston Smith.
Healing the Wounds of Trauma by Trauma Healing Institute
Recovering From the Losses of Life by Norm Wright
Loss Workshop by Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF)
CenterForLoss.com – books and devotionals by Alan Wolfelt
Side by Side by Ed Welch
Stumbling toward Wholeness by Andrew Bauman
Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey
Choosing to SEE by Marybeth Chapman
Through a Season of Grief by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard