Overcoming Grief in Times of Loss
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Are you currently mourning or grieving the loss of someone you love? Does the idea of getting beyond the pain and sorrow seem impossible to you? Do peace and comfort seem nonexistent or out of reach?
Jesus’ disciples knew what it meant to mourn and grieve. They had seen Jesus crucified and His body laid in a tomb. One day He was with them, and the next He was gone—or so it must have felt. They’d no doubt had their fair share of tests during the three years they had spent with Jesus. But the test they endured right after His death must have been one of the most difficult.
Since their Master had given them plenty of advance warning concerning His betrayal, crucifixion, death, and resurrection on the third day, you’d think they would have felt better prepared to face everything.1
He had clearly told them, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”2 At the time Jesus spoke these words, His disciples hadn’t fully grasped how soon they would be seeing Him. It seems they thought that He meant in the afterlife, not just three days after His death.
When He was crucified and laid to rest, they wrestled with doubt. They had seen their Master perform miracles of resurrection, but now here He was entombed himself.
Mary Magdalene found them in this dejected, melancholic state of mind on Easter Sunday. When she came running to them with the news of finding the tomb empty and seeing an angel who told her that Jesus had risen, at first they didn’t believe her. That is, until Peter and John went and saw it for themselves.3
When Jesus manifested Himself to them, they discovered that He was more than just “alive.” He could do truly amazing things like appear and disappear, even when doors were shut.4 Later on, He appeared to a couple of His followers as they traveled from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He conversed with them the whole way there, but they were kept from recognizing Him until later that evening when they were having dinner together.5
Through these and many other signs, He convinced His grief-stricken followers that He had indeed been resurrected, and their grief turned to joy, just as He’d told them it would.
This is all well and good, you may be thinking. But how is it supposed to help me get beyond the pain of my own loss?
I know how you must feel. I’m no stranger to the pain of loss myself. My mother passed away in 2004—and dealing with her loss was truly a day-by-day, painstaking process. In an effort to stay “tough” and hide from the pain, I would tell myself, Mom’s gone and that’s that. I’ll see her again, yes, but who knows how long it will be before then? So I may as well tough it out and stay focused on the here and now.
I resigned myself to it for a long time, until it eventually took its toll on me. Thankfully, the Lord and His Holy Spirit began to change my perspective. I studied His Word with an open heart—and realized that we, the followers of Jesus who live today, have just as sure a guarantee of the eventual resurrection of our loved ones who have died as the disciples of old had of the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul says to the Thessalonians, “We do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”6
This realization caused a resurrection to take place in my own soul. The joy which I had allowed to die through my own pain and sorrow was coming to life again. And now my joy continues to grow, and I know that nothing or no one can take it from me.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one and wishing you could have that same joy, be comforted in knowing that you can. You can ask God to help you to look beyond the pain and emptiness of your loss to the glorious life to come, when all will be renewed, resurrected, and restored. Then will begin a process of renewal, resurrection, and restoration right in your own heart, as your joy is brought back to life.—Steve Hearts
If you have lost a loved one to death, you know that it is a painful experience. Jesus understood the pain of losing someone close to His heart. In the book of John, we learn that Jesus lost a loved one named Lazarus.7 Jesus was deeply moved and wept at the loss of His friend. This story, however, doesn’t end in tears. Jesus knew He possessed the power needed to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”8
Jesus overcame death through His resurrection. It is comforting to know that death is not the end for those who believe. Those who know Jesus as Savior will have eternal life.9 God has prepared a new home for us where there will be no more death, tears, or pain.10
Even if we are assured that our loved one is in a better place, we still experience the pain of their absence on earth. It is okay to grieve the loss of your loved one. Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, even knowing He would bring Lazarus back to life. God is not afraid of our emotions or our questions. We can pour out our burdens on Him and trust in His love to provide us reassurance and comfort.11
We can remember the many good things about our lost loved ones and rejoice in the fact that we were able to share in their lives. We can share stories about the impact our lost loved ones have had on our lives. We might find it comforting to do some of the things our lost loved ones particularly enjoyed or to spend time reminiscing about our lost loved ones with other close relatives and friends. We can also honor their memory by living our lives in a way that brings honor and glory to God.
It is important to remember that God is ultimately the source of our comfort.12 … The Bible tells us that God is the father of mercies and that He will comfort us in all our tribulations.13 Be assured that God loves you and that He understands how much you are hurting. Run to the shelter of the Most High where you will find sweet rest.14—GotQuestions.org15
Faithful friend prayer
God of all comfort, please be near me today. Let your strong presence be felt now and in the coming days. The grief of losing my loved one is so heavy on my heart and mind. I pray that you would come and comfort me. Wrap me up in your tender love. It pains me to lose someone so close to my heart. I struggle to understand, but I know that you’ve seen all this in times past. And in your wisdom, you have chosen to take my beloved family member/friend at this time and in this way. Embrace me, O God, and speak words of assurance and comfort by the Holy Spirit. …
Lord, what a faithful friend we have in you. You carry our sorrows and our griefs and our pain. Thank you for the privilege of taking everything to you in prayer. Remind us when we are overwhelmed with the grief of this great loss that we don’t need to forfeit peace or bear needless pain; we can take our troubled hearts to you. There has never been a faithful friend like you, who shares our sorrows and knows our hearts. Thank you, sweet friend. …
Thank you that I am never alone, that your presence calms the troubled sea of my life and speaks peace to my soul. Your word says that my faith will never be put to shame when my trust is in you. Hear my prayer as I ask for comfort in dealing with the loss of my loved one. Help me to find strength and peace in your presence. Restore joy to my soul. Lord, bless me and keep me, make your face shine upon me. Turn your face towards me and give me peace.—ConnectUs16
Published on Anchor July 2022. Read by Jon Marc.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 See Matthew 16:21, 17:22, 20:17–18; Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:32–34; Luke 9:21–22, 18:31–33.
2 John 16:22 NIV.
3 John 20:1–4.
4 John 20:19–20.
5 Luke 24:13–31.
6 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 NIV.
7 John 11:1–44.
8 John 11:25–26.
9 John 10:28.
10 Revelation 21:1–4.
11 1 Peter 5:7.
12 2 Corinthians 7:6.
13 2 Corinthians 1:3–4.
14 Psalm 91:1–2.