Thoughts about grief

I am now going through the most intense time of grieving that I have known so far in my life.   I pray that this is the worst that I have to go through but part of our struggle is our inability to know what lies ahead. But being now in the midst of grief I thought it might help to reflect on things.

Other people have a tendency to misunderstand deep grieving. It is easy to understand why they may misunderstand.

There is a grief without any hope that the person is in a good eternity. That is the grief of the one who either does not believe in the afterlife or believes that their love one is under condemnation in the afterlife. That would be the most intense type of grief in many ways. But not all, intense grieving is due to this lack of hope.

In fact, one key I think for people to understand is that each person’s grief is unique to the person. The best way to know what is causing a person’s deep sadness is to ask them. They may not know or they may know. But asking is the only way for you to know. Outside of that our words and comments may well miss the mark.   So if you have a friend who is in great sorrow, let them grieve, but when you do decide to speak ask what makes them so sad.

But even if a person has hope and confidence that they’re loved on is in the loving embrace of God in Christ.   They can still have intense sadness. How can this be?

There could be many reasons. But one of them is very simple. They have lost the ability to experience that unique relationship they had with the person.

It is a grief that we would have if our loved one was to go on a trip, they would never return, and where they were going no communication with us is possible. On the one hand we might know they are safe and even happy where they are going. But on the other the loss of that relationship would create deep sorrow. The more the other person was in our inner circle of emotional intimacy the greater the pain at their now not being there to interact with. Their “chair” or place of trust in our heart is now empty. That emptiness hurts.

This may explain the temptation by people to seek ways to talk to their loved ones using mediums and magic. This is all an illusion. Normally this is just a way for people to hustle money from hurting souls or as Harry Houdini called such people, “vultures who prey on the bereaved.”.   God forbids we use such a means and calls us to accept this painful separation as part of the sadness of living “East of Eden”. [1] But the fact that such a practice continues in the 21st century gives testimony of our hunger to not lose our intimate relationships because of death.

That is what I am feeling very intensely now in the loss of my dear friend and wife Terry.   I will miss our conversations.   Just our being together is lost. Her companionship is now gone. All of this is of a greater loss than I have ever suffered before because my relationship with Terry was the most intense human relationship in my life.

So the idea that just because we have Christian faith that death has no impact is not true. We have the hope of eternal life and resurrection in the Kingdom of God. However, this does not mean we should not grieve at our loss. A key relationship has been torn out of our lives and this hurts.   That we have lost. Even knowing our loved one is in perfect bliss with God in Christ does not remove this pain. The hope that we will one day have this relationship restored in the Kingdom is a comforting hope. But it does not stop us from hurting in the present moment.

So can you have faith in Christ Jesus and have deep grief. Yes this is possible and does not contradict our trust in the gospel.

John 11:35-36 NASB – “35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!””

[1] Lev 19:31 NASB – “31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”

For information on Houdini’s discrediting of mediums see http://www.foxvalleyhistory.org/spirits