The pain of a loved one is something we all must face at some point in our lives. While grief is an expected response to a significant loss, the unfamiliar emotions that arise can lead to feelings of helplessness, fear and isolation. As Christians, we can find hope in God and use Him as a source of comfort. For many, though, they struggle with understanding how to take those steps.
When dealing with the death of a loved one, there are some basic truths that God wants us to understand. This will help you cope with the loss, and move forward when you are ready to do so.
Understand that we all grieve differently.
Grieving the death of a loved one is an individual process. Some caregivers initially feel numb and disoriented, then endure pangs of yearning for the person who has died. Others feel anxious and have trouble sleeping, because they are dwelling on old arguments or words they wish they had expressed. Sudden outbursts of tears are common in grief, triggered by memories or reminders of the loved one. Even those who are confident that their loved one is with the Lord struggle with sadness over their loss. This is all normal, acceptable, and healthy.
Not all people grieve the same way, and that's alright. Some Christians might be angry at the Lord for a period of time, while others will rely heavily on Him for comfort. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Christians should try and help each other as best as they can during this process, but offer no judgment for those that may grieve differently than they would.
As painful as it may be to deal with the loss of a loved one, you must work your way to acceptance through prayer, companionship, forgiveness, and good old-fashioned faith in God’s promises. Once you reach acceptance, you will be able to reinvest in other relationships while truly being thankful for the time you had, no matter how short, with the loved one you lost.
Understand that Christians are not exempt from pain and suffering.
The “five-stages of grief”, including the “acceptance stage”, apply to Christians just as they apply to everyone else. God never said we would be exempt from pain and suffering. In fact, it’s an inevitable part of the human experience. By design, God gave us the ability to make our own choices which requires consequences for our actions. With the freedom to choose comes the potential for suffering from random chance events as well as the actions of others. God does not want to see us in pain or suffering, but it is a part of how we will experience life on earth.
That does not mean an unexpected death or negative consequence can serve no higher purpose. We should recognize that God can use an unfortunate event to benefit others. The loss of a loved one can help bring you closer to God, for example. However, we also need to understand that God would not choose to promote His plan by causing pain in others. It’s a part of the human experience, but not necessarily His doing.
Understand that God is always there with you through the pain.
Many people try to avoid pain by bottling up their emotions or rejecting the feelings they are having. They may avoid places and circumstances that remind them of their loved one. They may try to take shortcuts through the grieving process, not admitting to the feelings of anger or denial that usually exist. However, the only way to move through grief is to move through it. We can do this by leaning on God, and asking for His help during this difficult time. Even Jesus wept over the loss of His friend Lazarus, even though He knew He was about to raise him from the dead. We, too, should take the time to feel the pain. We can help understand the pain we feel by turning to God in prayer, meditating on His word, and speaking with other trusted Christians about our experience.
The Bible has a lot to say about death and dying, and some of these Bible verses can help you when dealing with the pain of losing your loved one. Meditate on these verses, and chat with God about how the words speak to you.
- 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
- Ecclesiastes 12:7: "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it."
- John 11:25: "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."
- John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
- John 14:3: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."
- Romans 8:11: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."
- John 8:51: "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
- Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
- Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."
The pain we feel from the loss of a loved one might be hard to understand, but as Christians we have hope beyond the grave. By working through our grief with God, and understanding that the pain we feel is normal, we have a better success of healing. Your faith is a great tool to help you when faced with death, so don’t be afraid to reach out to God when you are ready.