Overcome Grief and Loss – One Day at a Time
Duane Vander Klok
Death is a fact of life and something we will all encounter in our lives – the death of a loved one, family member, or a role model, as well as our own death. No other event in life can affect us as deeply, and there are so many questions that run through our minds when a death occurs. Why? What happens after death? How do I move forward? It may feel overwhelming, but as a believer you can have so much hope even in the midst of death.
Did you know that you are designed in God’s image? God is a three-part being, and so are you. He is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7). You were also designed in three parts – body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Think of it this way: you are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body.
What Happens When We Die?
Everyone’s physical body will eventually pass away but your spirit, the part of you that communicates with God, will live forever. Your spirit (made up of your mind, will and emotions) will either live eternally with God in heaven or forever be separated from Him. In John 11:25-26 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Jesus died to pay for our sins so death is not the end for believers! This is our assurance as those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – spending eternity with our Father in Heaven!
Seeing as you are a spirit that will never die, your time here on earth is only a small portion of your existence. During this time on earth you get to choose how your spirit, the real you, will spend eternity. Once the moment of death arrives, the chance to make that decision is gone and your spiritual eternity is sealed. 2 Corinthians 5:8 reassures us that, We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. There is so much comfort, hope, and assurance through Christ when we stand on verses like this knowing that our loved ones have gone to be with God in heaven. While you may not see them again here on earth, you will see them again in eternity!
Do you have a loved one who passed away and you are unsure of their salvation or question if they accepted Jesus as Lord before they left this earth? Deuteronomy 32:4 says He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. God does not force anyone into heaven or hell, but He invites every person to accept the gift of eternity with Him.You can know that in His mercy, God continues to reach out to people even to the very end, and there is great peace to be found in trusting that He always does what is just and right.
The Grieving Process
Words cannot describe the pain of losing a loved one. Where there is loss, there is a time of grieving. If we know the person was a believer, it is a temporary loss, but we still grieve the separation. The time of grief allows us to work through the emotions and adjust to the loss.
There is something inside of all of us that opposes death. Death is an enemy. In fact, the Bible tells us that it is the last enemy that will be conquered. Until Jesus returns, death and grief are realities, but in Him they are nothing to be afraid of.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 tells us that in the time of death, the wise men are in the house of mourning. Grief is a healing process when God is invited. A time of sadness and reflection allows God to heal your heart from the pain of loss. This verse also tells us that the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. Attempting to cover up pain with worldly pleasures or avoiding the process of grief does not allow God to work in your heart. Trying to avoid or drown grief may lead to unresolved sorrows that affect you later. As a believer, you can have joy in the midst of loss because you have hope in God, but that does not have to nullify the need for a grieving period.
As you invite God into your time of mourning, the sorrow will lessen. In the Holy Spirit we have a counselor, a comforter, and all the fruits of the Spirit. A season of grief allows time to deal with the necessary emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual adjustments. Lean on Him, and you will come through the pain and loss.
Life After Loss
Staying in a season of grief for too long can be just as harmful as avoiding it. You were not designed to live in mourning forever – it’s a seasonal state. In the Old Testament we read the story of Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah died, Abraham had a time of mourning for her, but then acknowledged the need to keep moving forward in life saying, “Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” (Genesis 23:4). This does not mean he did not think about or remember Sarah. Proverbs 10:7 says “The memory of the righteous is blessed…” and indeed, memories of loved ones we have lost are to be a blessing to us, they are not meant to keep us from moving forward.
Abraham is an example of grief and moving forward after the death of a loved one. Sarah died when Abraham was 137 years old, but he did not give up. He continued his life, his work, his relationship with his son, Isaac, and even remarried and had more children. A season of grief is good, honoring, and healthy, but there is a time to acknowledge “my loved one is in heaven, and while I am here, I am going to keep on serving the Lord.”
A good first step forward is to begin recognizing the ways that God is caring and providing for your needs. Thank Him often! Gratefulness helps heal a broken heart. God is a caring Father, and He always provides for the needs of His children (Philippians 4:19).
You may be facing many decisions, circumstances, or difficulties without the input of your loved one. But know that God is with you. His wisdom and love can carry you through any situation. You do not have to live with a hole or missing part in your life – God desires that you live in fullness and abundance knowing how much He loves you. Ephesians 3:17-19NIV says, And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. His desire for each one of us is to be filled with His blessing and rooted in His love, security and comfort.
How do I move forward?
Grief is not something that should be carried alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one, you can start the healing process by turning to God. Having a support system of trusted believers alongside you during this time can also be beneficial. God wants to heal your broken heart, so entrust your pain to Him and watch Him turn it into hope! Below is a simple prayer to get your conversation with God started.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your great love. Your Word teaches that You are the God of all comfort. I ask for your love and peace to comfort my heart, mind, and spirit. Holy Spirit, please make the truth of Your Word real in my heart. Give me the strength to trust You to meet my needs during this time. Amen.
If you would like someone to agree with you in prayer, please contact us at (800) 988.5120 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more on this topic? Order Pastor Duane’s book, Dealing With Death by CLICKING HERE for only $5.
All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise stated.