Everyone experiences loss. 2020 was a year of many losses for most of us. But, while loss is unavoidable, grief is not. Some people do not grieve. Many want to avoid dealing with their pain, and some self-medicate to deal with their emotions.
Grief is a choice. It is the healthiest choice when confronted with loss. So, the first key to dealing with significant loss is to choose to grieve that loss. Why do some people push their feelings aside instead of admitting pain and grieving? There are two main reasons: fear and faulty thinking. I have had people tell me they fear they will have a nervous breakdown. But the truth is that to allow yourself to feel sadness, loneliness, is not sinful. Grief does not make you more vulnerable to mental and emotional breakdown – just the opposite. When we stuff our pain, we are at a higher risk of serious physical, emotional, and spiritual problems.
The dictionary defines grief as a “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow or painful regret.” In his series How to Get Through What You're Going Through, Rick Warren says the ability to grieve is a gift from God. To choose to grieve your loss is to accept the reality of sorrow and to honor the meaningfulness of what you had and no longer do have.
Secondly, remember God’s Word. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). God blesses us and personally comforts us as we grieve. God has compassion on you when you grieve. Jesus wept with his friends over the death of Lazarus, even though He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Finally, we are not meant to go it alone! We need to draw near to God and stay connected to someone who will walk through this journey with us. Grief work requires some solitude and crying out to the Lord. He knows the depth of our hearts and our thoughts. We also need to be with someone with whom we can be our true selves as we share how the loss has changed our lives. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin. But, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”