Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
—Psalm 56:8

As we continue our study on grief, we look today at the stages of grief. Grief is like a tunnel we must pass through to get to the other side. And in this tunnel, there are four stages of grief that all have a biblical basis.

When you have lost a loved one, the first stage is shock. Sometimes that shock is expressed in uncontrollable emotion, such as weeping. But more often than not, the usual response is numbness. By the way, we make a mistake when we tell someone, “You are holding up so well.” That “holding up so well” usually is just a case of shock. When the shock wears off, the bereaved will have to express emotion. Anger, guilt, sadness, bitterness, and grief are all strong emotions that, if pent up, will lead to physical and emotional sickness.

The second stage of grief is despondency. A person who is in this stage of grief will find it hard to perform the simplest tasks. He asks, “Why does it matter?” We must realize that when death hits us, it completely disrupts our lives. But apathy is only temporary. After the shock of death has subsided a bit, the bereaved will need special attention, love, and support because this period of apathy is so subtle that they do not notice it happening.

The next stage of grief is regression. A person who is grieving appears to be getting worse, not better, at this stage. He begins to ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Many times he will blame himself. “Why didn’t we get another doctor’s report?” Or he will blame other people for not showing the kind of concern he thinks is warranted in the situation. During this stage of regression, the person who is grieving will become obsessed with his deceased loved one, trying to remember everything he can, putting pictures around the house. During this stage, the most important thing you can do is not condemn the person. Understand this is a part of the grief process.

The fourth stage of grief is adaptation. At that stage, a person is starting to accept the death of his loved one. He has a new perspective on the person he has lost, but that feeling is somewhat different. Now, we only reach the adaptation stage if we have gone through the other stages successfully. We cannot rush the process of grief. It’s like breaking your arm and then saying to your arm, “Hurry up and heal.” It takes time to heal. It takes time for our emotions to heal as well. Remember Psalm 30:5. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

***
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Getting Over Grief” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.