Ministering to the Grieving

by Muriel Larson

As "Dr. Muriel," e-mail advisor for Campus Crusade for Christ E-zines, I have received many letters from depressed people who are miserable because of a great loss of some kind. They have lost a mate or a lover or a precious child or relative. And they can't find their way out of their depression because they can't bring themselves to accept their loss.

"Since my husband left me a year ago, I can't seem to get my life together."

"My only child died in an accident, and since then my life is not worth living."

"My church let me down. I lost my job. I lost my boyfriend. I just want to end it all!"

Why is it so hard for many people to let go, to the extent that it often results in almost constant depression and the falling apart of their lives? Let's look at the process of grief.

Denial

According to Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, "The individual refuses momentarily to believe this is really happening to him. This stage does not last very long" (Happiness Is a Choice). This may be true of most, but if a loss occurs in a traumatic way or if multiple losses strike, a person may remain in a state of denial for some time.

Anger Toward God

The next stage of grief is anger. Often this anger is directed at God: "Why did God allow this to happen? My husband and I have faithfully served Him-and this is what we get!" Many people admit their anger toward God and their loss of trust in Him. Unfortunately, they have turned away from the very Person who can give them comfort and deliver them from their grief and depression.

To those who know the Lord, the Bible says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4). I went through many trials in my life and have often experienced this comfort. So now I can pass along to others that incredible comfort He gave me in every circumstance, a number of which resemble the problems of those I counsel.

To those who are not sure they have this personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ I recommend this Website: www.thelife.com.

Anger Toward Others or Themselves

Then there are those who turn their anger toward others, especially others who may have contributed substantially to their loss. One woman I knew developed a fierce anger toward truck drivers, because one had caused the death of her beloved husband. Others turn their anger against the woman who "took" their husbands away from them-or against their mates who left them.

Many people turn their anger inward, toward themselves, perhaps feeling guilt for some reason or for holding a grudge against God and others. Thus guilt can contribute to the depression of grief and might even drive them to suicide.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." According to verses 29-31, those who don't follow this Scripture may become bitter, angry, pugnacious persons. Thus they will probably continue to wallow in grief and self-pity.

The remedy is found in Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Genuine Grief

Encourage grief-stricken people to go ahead and have a good cry over their loss and to share their feelings with you or some other sympathetic person. My online-published article, "For Relief, Tell Someone" shows what a relief doing this can give a grieving person. Its Website is: www.christianwomentoday.com

And encourage them to have a good cry whenever their loss comes to mind, for it will relieve them more and more of the depression that goes with grief.

Acceptance

According Dr. Leonard Cammer, with most people a normal grief reaction passes in due course. So even though some people may entertain thoughts of killing themselves during the grief process, they would be wise to accept their loss and get on with their lives. Acceptance of loss will accelerate their recovery from the depression of grief.

Arthur Bryant said, "Rightly conceived, time is the friend of all who are in any way in adversity, for its mazy road winds in and out of the shadows sooner or later into sunshine, and when one is at its darkest point one can be certain that presently it will grow brighter."

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad