The Pointers: by Pastor Troy DeFeo
January 28, 2019
Nothing probably hurts worse than losing someone you love to death or divorce. Similar feelings often surface after a major life change such as job loss, move or facing some major disappointment. The ache inside can feel as if your soul will crush under the weight of deep, paralyzing sorrow. You may find yourself even asking how a loving God could allow such a painful thing to happen. The dull sadness often bleeds into denial, anger or depression.
Grief is unpredictable, affecting each of us in slightly different ways. While it may not ease the pain, understanding that grief can help us cope a little better when something arises.
How Grief Feels
If you feel like you are losing your grip on reality, you might be a perfectly sane person enduring the confusion of grief. Perhaps you suffer irrational fears, dread the simple things or even experience paranoia. You may feel empty, numb or even like you are in shock. Grief even causes some people to experience trembling, nausea, breathing difficulty, panic attacks, loss of appetite and even nightmares. Even insomnia can occur for millions of people who are experiencing high levels of stress.
It is very important to understand a few key things: Feelings of anger can also surface, even if there is nothing, in particular, to be angry about. Although being angry at a person leaving you, hurting your children emotionally or even anger towards God can take place...all of this is very normal. Many people torture themselves with guilt or shame by asking what they did wrong, how they might have prevented the loss or some other form of self-condemnation. In short, grief makes us feel like our emotions have gone haywire because, in many ways, they have. Over time, and time is critical, you will regain a measure of equilibrium.
Why Grief Hurts
God gave us the gift of pain so that we can react when something goes wrong. From the beginning of time (Genesis 2:17), sin has made its way in the door of every heart and every mind and has caused more pain than we can ever imagine. Although, we have someone who can fully understand this pain. Jesus Christ experienced it first hand by taking on the world’s sin on the cross. His Father took on pain by giving up His only begotten Son for all of mankind.
We limp when a leg bone is out of joint to protect us from further damage. In a similar manner, losing an important person or going through a significant change can cause our entire system to react as it recognizes that something is wrong. You might say that the confusing emotions and ache in the pit of your soul are apart of grief’s “limp.” The longer and more intimate the loss, the more severe the “limp” will be. The severity and length of your pain is a testimony to the value of the person lost or the importance of the situation that changed.
How Grief Hurts
Even though it may not feel like it, grief can be a source of great hope. Your reaction against what is wrong comes from a deep yearning for things to be made right. Loss can open us to ultimate wholeness and restoration. While grieving the death of his spouse, C.S. Lewis asked, “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?’ Have they never been to a dentist?” The dentist’s drill, while an instrument of intense pain, ultimately brings health. The drill of grief fosters healing in our lives by raising ultimate issues and eternal questions such as “Who is my true beloved?” and “Where is my real home?” As believers in Christ, we know that a much better day is coming when God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. On that day
“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Children and Grief
If you have children impacted by the pain of a death, divorce, moving away or severe disappointments, it is important that you remain attentive to their needs. Talk to them. Assure them you are there for them and you love them. You are God’s gift to them as they endure a loss that may be beyond comprehension. It is not your role to explain why it is has happened. It is your role to be an agent of comfort and grace, allowing them to experience the confusing and hard emotions of grief in the safety of your patient company.