Living with Grief

JBU Winter 2021 Subscription Special

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Grief is not a problem to be fixed but a process to be lived out,” said Mel Lawrenz, pastor, teacher and author, in an interview in Psychology Today. When his 30-year-old daughter died unexpectedly, Mel began a journey he describes as “intense, painful and unpredictable.” 


When my own sister passed away, I felt numb. Though my counselor assured me there was no “wrong way” to grieve, my response made me feel selfish, uncaring. I was suddenly confronted with my own mortality.


Grief looks different for everyone. And unfortunately, it can’t be rushed. I found these words written by Andy Raine helpful: 


“Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you unspoken words. Unfinished conversation will be resolved in him. Be not disturbed. Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.”


If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, give them time, but don’t distance yourself. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell them you have no words.


Be a listening ear, but don’t judge. You will never fully understand what they are going through, and feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. 


If they don’t feel up to talking, simply be there for them. Resist the need to fill the silence, and don’t be afraid of tears. In times when words are not enough, practice the ministry of presence.


Share your own positive memories of the person they have lost, but don’t offer platitudes. Trying to look on the “bright side” by offering words of condolence, like “he’s in a better place,” can fall flat. When my aunt was just a child, her mother died, and a well-meaning person told her, “God needed her in heaven.” Even as a child, my aunt couldn’t understand why God would need her mommy more than she did. 


Don’t abandon the friendship, even if the grieving process takes longer than you think it should. But even when your friend seems “back to normal,” check in with them. Ask how they’re doing. Anniversaries and other “firsts” after a death will be particularly hard, but even months or years after their loved one’s death, remind them that you still think about that person, too.


Whether you are grieving a loss or walking alongside someone else who is grieving, Just Between Us (JBU) wants to support you. We have gathered these articles together to help you understand the grieving process and to offer you hope. We pray that the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” will comfort you so that you can comfort others in return (2 Cor. 1:3-4).


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