Our world is grieving. With ongoing regularity, we are confronted with natural disasters, political upheaval, racial unrest, injustice of every kind, emotional confusion and distress, financial distress, and spiritual deconstruction, not to mention death—of loved ones, pets, hopes, dreams, and more. Our world is grieving.
Grief is intense emotional suffering caused by a loss of any kind. It includes a complex set of emotions and responses. It is a universal experience. Few escape it, some are trapped by it, but most come through it with a sense that they have been marked forever by it. It changes your emotional landscape much like the creation of a mountain range changes the physical landscape. It is both destructive and beautiful.
Grieving is hard work. Grieving is to the emotional system following a loss what healing is to the physical system after surgery. Grieving is a process. It is complicated. If loss happened in a vacuum, it would be difficult enough, but it doesn’t. Loss occurs in the middle of life that is already messy, painful, and complicated at times. It rarely makes an appointment and seems to know the worst time to enter through the door of daily living.
Loss can and often does occur in a multi-layered fashion. For example, I am grieving several losses in my life all at one time. I am grieving the loss of loved ones (which is ongoing), loss in relationships, and loss of hopes and dreams at home and at church. I have learned and am learning the importance of being curious and kind with myself and all my “feels.” I have learned and am learning the value of offering myself grace and space—grace when I’m feeling overwhelmed and must leave things undone, and space for my body, soul, and spirit to rest and refresh.
Our world is grieving, but there is encouragement for living in a grieving world. It is found in so many ways, but here are four of my favorites:
1. The Word of God and the Presence of God Himself
Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” One of my favorite passages of Scripture when I’m grieving is Lamentations 3:19-24, which, in essence, says, when I am depressed, my hope is found in recalling that the Lord is faithful in His love toward us; His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. We are not promised to be without pain in this life, but Scripture is clear: we are promised His presence, His peace, His power, and His provision through it!
2. One Another
Grief is hard work, and it is too heavy to carry alone. It cannot be done in isolation. It must involve the support of other people, grief companions, if you will. It must include community. And as important as community is, a warning label is attached: Community involves people. Even so, when it comes to community and support, the more the merrier. Consider the following:
- Talk. Tell your story. Identify the friends in your life who might be willing to listen. Spread out the weight of your story among many.
- Find a small group. Many churches offer a grief support group. Find one near you and go. Cycle through more than once if needed.
- Find a counselor. Grief is complicated. The emotions surrounding grief can be complicated.
Those emotions can trigger past loss, trauma, and family of origin issues. I highly recommend giving yourself at least one session with a trained, Christian counselor. If you have the means or insurance for more—do it! Remember, not all your friends or even family are wired to walk this journey with you in a life-affirming, helpful, and hopeful way. Some people will help you carry your load—others will add to it. The people or companions you choose to walk this path with should be safe, trusted, caring friends who will help you carry your burden, not try to solve, fix, or off-load it.
A healthy grieving process includes being intentional about caring for yourself, your body, soul, and spirit. Some examples of good self-care might include exercising daily (start small if necessary), eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water, reading lighthearted books, watching fun movies, reading or listening to the Bible, praying, journaling, writing a lament, or engaging in any other healthy activity.
Having a clear understanding of the helpful thoughts and feelings around healthy grief is an invaluable tool. Like anything new—the more we understand what is happening to us—the easier it is to rest in the process and not be afraid. It is also important to be caring, kind, and understanding with yourself. If you are grieving a loss, you may be wondering, Will I get through this, and why do I feel the way I feel? Is this normal? The choices you make through the grieving process will determine the answers to those questions. It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently. For this reason, give your fellow “grievers” space and grace. Space to follow the path through loss at their own pace and grace for the missteps along the way.
It is also important to mention that while everything is normal, not everything is helpful. If you are using drugs, alcohol, inappropriate relationships, or pornography to numb, escape, or avoid your pain, please make a call for help today. There is help and there is hope. As always, if there are concerns for your safety, please contact a medical professional, call 988 (the National Suicide Hotline), or call 911. Additionally, most hospitals provide a free behavioral health assessment to identify the severity of your symptoms. Please reach out for help. You matter, you are loved, and you are not alone. If you are grieving a loss of any kind, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that the God of all comfort would pour Himself out over you today and that He would bind up your broken heart as only He can do. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through Lifeway Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. “I was a wounded, lonely Midwest farm girl until the Divine Romancer swept me off my feet. I want to steward my story well so that others can find Him in their stories and be fully satisfied.” Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live on Florida’s West Coast and are both on staff at Bayside Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the Lifeway resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.