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What Do You Know About Grief?

What Is Grief?

Grief is a natural healing response following a loss or a change in life. It is a process that involves your whole being and becomes a physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual experience. When you lose someone or something like a job, that gave you purpose, value, meaning or security, you grieve. Grief is inevitable, individual, painful, cumulative, normal and hard work—and it comes like the ebb and flow of ocean waves.

Is Grieving A Sin?

No! Jesus Himself wept at the death of His friend Lazarus in John 11:35. There are many other examples in the Bible of people grieving. In Genesis 23:2 we read that Abraham grieved the death of his wife Sarah. King David grieved over the death of his infant son in 2 Samuel 12:16. In these accounts, God never expresses condemnation. Both then and now, He allows people to go through the grieving process and then come out on the other side to go on with their life. Although a person who is grieving may feel as if God has abandoned him, he can be assured that God will keep His promise from Hebrews 13:5, I will never leave you: never will I forsake you.

Did You Know That Each Year . . .

  • 8,000,000 Americans experience a death in their immediate family.
  • 800,000 people experience the loss of their spouse.
  • 1,500,000 children under the age of 15 experience the loss of one of their parents to death.
  • 6,100,000 million children experience loss of a parent by divorce.

Common Reactions To Grief

As humans, we grieve because we have attachments to other people and to things. While everyone’s responses to the loss of someone or something significant may vary, there are some predictable reactions you may experience.

Physical And Emotional Reactions

  • Deep sighing
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Frequent illness
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Muscular tension
  • Neglect of self
  • Numbness and confusion
  • Sadness/Helplessness/Hopelessness
  • Guilt/Yearning/Despair
  • Anger/Bitterness/Vengefulness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Feelings of being lost

Spiritual Reactions

  • Emptiness/no reason to live
  • Questions about faith/beliefs
  • Search for meaning or connectedness
  • Pessimism or idealism
  • Acceptance/Forgiveness/Compassion

Behavioral and Mental Reactions

  • Detached from surroundings
  • Disoriented to time and place
  • Withdrawn from family and activities
  • Forgetful and unable to concentrate
  • Apathetic towards the future
  • Tearful, crying easily
  • Denying or avoiding reality
  • Searching to understand the loss
  • Repeatedly reviewing the loss
  • Suicidal thoughts

Complicated Grief

Some people fail to heal because the grief process is blocked or buried. Reasons for this include the lack of a supporting friend, multiple losses in a short time, a traumatic unanticipated loss (suicide), or failure to face reality. The use of drugs or alcohol can also stifle the grieving process. Counseling can help facilitate healing.

You Should Know . . .

  • Grief will take longer than you think.
  • Grief will take more energy than you ever imagined.
  • Three months after the loss your grief may be worse than it was after the initial event.
  • Places, smells, music, words, may cause you to feel “ambushed by grief.”
  • Men and women may grieve in different ways, which sometimes causes great misunderstanding in a family.
  • There is no set limit on how long you should grieve. Others may expect too much of you too soon. Give yourself time.
  • You did not have a choice about this experience happening to you, but you do have a choice about how you respond to it.
  • Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning . . .

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness..
—Psalm 30:5, 11

Steps To Healing

  • Realize that God knows your pain and He longs to comfort you. Honestly tell Him your sorrows, fears, and hurts.
  • Face and accept the reality of your loss.
  • Take charge of your life and your grief. Find new ways of functioning without the lost person/thing, but preserve your memories of what you had.
  • Seek to find meaning in life again in spite of your loss and pain, and allow yourself to feel the joy of life again without feeling guilty.
  • Seek God’s love and care.
  • Talk to your pastor. Return to church and other enjoyable activities.
  • Seek counseling if you need extra help dealing with this loss.

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Many times we feel helpless because we don’t know what to say or do to comfort a grieving friend. The “3 H’s” below provide some helpful ideas to guide you at those times.

Hang Around!
Be available to spend time with, talk to, and pray with your friend.

Let him know you love and care about him through physical touch, words, acts of service or just being together.

Listen without giving lectures, sermons or trite sayings. A simple, “I’m sorry,” is often all that is necessary to say.

Schedule an Appointment Today

We are a team of experienced counselors that are here to help you. Our staff has a diverse set of abilities and specialties in order to assist clients with a wide variety of needs. To schedule an appointment or to get more information, please call our Hanover, PA office at 717.630.2255. (Learn more about our Christian counseling services).


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