Throughout life, we use the word grief to describe a wide range of responses to an even wider range of circumstances. But what actually is grief? Grief is a natural response to a change or loss of something you once had in your life or to something you wanted but didn’t get. It can be a very strong emotional reaction after the loss of an attachment with a person or something that brought you happiness, peace, and security.
Grief can be a deep or shallow feeling of sorrow and can come and go unexpectedly. The pain of grief is somewhat of a constant occurrence throughout everyone’s life because change is constant and loss is inevitable. Grief can take us by surprise, or we can expect it and learn how to accept change and loss as they occur. Either way, we have a choice to turn toward or away from the pain, anguish, and mourning to find deeper meanings in the truth of each loss.
During times of grief, God’s love can help. By turning to God and leaning on Him following a trauma, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job we took pride in, divorce, or any other type of loss, He will support us as we begin the healing process. God will show us the way, and over time, we will move from a place of grief to glory, having made meaningful sense of the grief which entered our lives.
Understanding how to process grief is vital to living in physical, psychological, and spiritual health.
Grief is the emotion that can cause heartache after you have experienced a change or the loss of someone or something significant to you that has meaning and value in your life. It is an integral part of the human experience. Some say that if we never know the depths of grief we can never understand or begin to appreciate moments of joy, beauty, and peacefulness. And we may not realize the things that personally bring us deep meaning and love.
It’s an active choice to move through grief or to run away from it. If you allow grief to be a part of your journey, you can build hope in your life and more meaning. Hope is expecting a blessing in the future. Finding meaning in your grief will help you to know what kind of a blessing you need and pray for it.
Embracing grief is like breathing new life into your soul in order to heal the heartache. The pain in your heart yearns for you to embrace your grief so that it can be transformed and set free.
Grief can be a journey towards more reverence, peacefulness, and love.
Grief seeks to return us from a sense of loss back to wholeness and completion. The purpose of grief is to increase our awareness of the things we hold dear, remind us what we truly value, what things give us meaning, and what things bring us love.
The last words Jesus said as he hung on the cross in a state of grief was, “It is finished.” At this point, He was able to accept the one great final loss of his human life, his own death. Jesus let go of all that he loved on Earth, and He returned to the love of God.
Grief reminds us of what we love. It also reminds us that there’s one enduring eternal love that’s always there for us. From the beginning to the end, God is loving us unconditionally. Grief can return us to a deeper experience with the love of God and can inspire us to seek more love from others. When we find and bring in more love, we can lessen our grief and learn to live with it.
It’s your reverence, your deep respect for someone or something, that becomes clear when grief demands your attention. Knowing this about yourself can give you the courage to bring more of those things into your life, so that you can grow into feeling more and more complete and whole.
Jesus says, “Let my peace be with you, my peace I leave with you, not as the world does, but as heaven desires.” As we turn to Him in prayer, we can ask God for His heavenly peace and trust in His divine plan.
We can become whole again after a loss. We use our ability to have faith in a bigger plan. Faith is accepting what God is creating in us and for us. It’s our faith that returns us from grief to wholeness. “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” (Mark 5:34)
There are many distinct and different types of grief.
There are various types of grief. Among them are bereavement grief, acute grief, and complicated grief. Then there’s also good grief.
BEREAVEMENT GRIEF is when someone you know or a loved one dies, and you go through a bereavement period. This is a season of mourning which is not associated with a certain time period. It can be days, months, years, and even a lifetime. Everyone walks a different path to process pain and suffering.
ACUTE GRIEF is a psychological syndrome that can have intense physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. This type of grief can be all encompassing and very intense. You usually feel this acute grief immediately after the loss and the death of a loved one or a significant dream you had which you know will not come to fruition.
You may experience significant emotional pain and physical reactions that you have never felt before. Possible strong feelings of yearning, longing, and sorrow are typical. You ruminate about and rehash memories of the dead person or the dream over and over again.
Some symptoms of acute grief are constant tearfulness, sadness, and insomnia. Acute grief requires honest tender care.
COMPLICATED GRIEF occurs when the process for someone to move through grief is prolonged by obsessive thoughts, uncontrollable feelings, and any non-adaptive behavior that can cause unnecessary anxiety or stress.
Complicated grief can be an ongoing heightened state of mourning that keeps you from healing. Some signs and symptoms may include intense sorrow, pain, rumination of the loss, and a focus on the past. In order to move forward into positive ways of coping, it is helpful to seek treatment from a grief group or specialist.
GOOD GRIEF is simply allowing yourself to grieve in a healthy way. With good grief, you give yourself permission to be who you are in the pain, the tears, the paralyzation, the loss, the shock, and the brokenness.
The process of grieving is a gift
We give ourselves the power to overcome our grief when we walk in faith accepting what the truth is. Finding others who can help us with our grief is using our grief to get our needs met. We need more love, kindness, and gentleness when we are in pain.
I’ve found during periods of grief that meditating on the unconditional love of Christ and taking deep breaths helps me to become calm in my soul and delivers me to my heart. This helps me to focus and feel. Whether I cry or not, it’s important to feel the pain of my grief and the hope of God’s promises.
God’s Spirit promises to be our helper and counselor. He promises to heal our broken hearts. In trusting God through the grief process, we can become even more in tune or connected with the one who promises to impart His divine power of healing. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the one who heals.
Start by believing now that your grief is being healed and, therefore, your heart, too. Receive the promise that Christ will continue to work in you until you are “perfectly whole.” Because one day you will be.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve your life through an approach of feeding the whole person: body, soul, and spirit, contact me today.
Tonyah Dee has studied the Bible and wisdom traditions of the world for the last 30 years and teaches about finding ways to increase inner strength, stability, and confidence through practicing spiritual disciplines and healthy habits daily. Tonyah is a nutritionist, registered dietitian (R.D.), and earned her B.S. from Loma Linda University. She also holds certifications in Christ-centered life coaching, equine therapy, and meditation. Tonyah has been published in Scary Mommy, MSN, The Mighty, Mantra Wellness, CoveyClub, Thrive Global. Follow Tonyah on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Medium.