OVERCOMING GRIEF: What I don’t want to hear….

by | Nov 29, 2017 | writing

Hello, all. I am tackling what is a monster of a subject right now for me because I am in the midst of it. Not that depression is an easy topic to work through, but I am well into the recovery stages. I am still in the throes of grieving for my mother. She passed, suddenly, this past April. Not that an “expected” death, the kind where your loved one was sick for a while and you had received a difficult prognosis makes it easier or more fair. It doesn’t. But there is the shock factor that goes into an unexpected death.

One of the things I always tell my children about life in general is the following: when you’re having a good morning/day, is God in control? When you’re having a bad day/morning, is He still in control? Of course. Well, I know the same holds true about death and loss. But, I promise you, this may not be the time to share that with someone who has just lost a loved one. There are, in fact, many, many truths from God’s Word that are everlasting and solid that your mourning friend does really know in their core that they may not necessarily want to hear during this season of grieving.

I know, for example, that “…in all things God works for the the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)”. And I know that “…we do not mourn as those who have no hope… (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)” These are, again, wonderful truths from an Almighty God, but there is pretty much no way to deliver them (in my experience) where they don’t come across as platitudes, Christianese-like blabber that taunts your hurting friend.

The passages that comforted me the most were the ones that gave me permission to mourn. That, in fact gave me hope in the mourning.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

When I mourn, I am blessed? How? Because the everlasting God, through His Holy Spirit, the Great Comforter, will comfort me…as well as through the believers beside me, who are doing life with me. When I mourn, I will find comfort. What a sweet promise! What wonderful words that let me know that my tears are okay. That they are normal, and human, and…part of the process.

Another passage that speaks directly to my hurting heart:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:1-3

I could spend all day unpacking this passage. But I won’t. What gems are here for those who are grief-stricken! He will comfort the broken-hearted. Other translations say “He will bind the broken-hearted…” I picture someone wrapping bandages around a wounded heart. And that’s exactly how I feel much of the time…that my heart is an open wound, bleeding everywhere. And I need someone who knows what they are doing to bind and heal it.

This passage goes on to say that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. This gets into the traditions and customs of the Israelites. Perhaps something for another post.

But Isaiah also tells that we, who are mourning, will receive a crown of beauty for our ashes. In these times, those in mourning would cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes…an external sign for what was happening within them. So, he is saying that God will take away all signs of their sadness and bestow upon them a tiara. And that He (God) will bless them. That we (who mourn) will have reason to praise. Now, that gives me hope. That God will take the broken pieces of my heart and exchange them for beauty, praise, and joy.

But that for now, these things that I am going through are part of the human experience. That they are part and parcel with our sinful flesh…and with the fact that sin degrades and destroys. That it will continue to degrade and destroy until God puts an end to it.

Still, though sin may have a hold on our flesh, death has lost it’s sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) because of Christ and what He has done.

What’s the bottom line here? For those of you who are in the grieving process, please give yourself permission to mourn. It is right. It is human.

If you are someone who has a loved one you think is just stuck in the grieving process, have patience. Not everyone moves through the stages at the same rate. Grieving is difficult. Mind your words and just be there to listen. That’s what the grieving person needs the most. Your ear and shoulder, not always your words. It’s okay if you don’t have anything to say. It really, really is.



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Sara R. Turnquist