Grief seems an odd thing to “commemorate” with a special day, but in truth, it’s really not a bad idea.
Many people think there are rules, or ways they are supposed to grieve the loss of a loved one, or something they love. But there really are no rules—except for one. While you grieve, you will move through stages. Sadness. Anger. Ambivalence. Sorrow. Heart-wrenching pain. Understanding. Acceptance of a “new normal.” And here’s that one rule—the only time to worry if you are grieving “improperly” is when you feel like you are stuck in any of the stages. And the list of stages I’ve given above is incomplete. Everyone has their own particular stages of grief, and their own particular way and time-table for moving through them. The only danger in grief—is that you get stuck in your grief, and you don’t keep moving toward a “new normal.” You may repeat stages. You may skip stages. But only worry if you can’t seem to get out of a stage.
While you grieve, (and you will—grief eventually comes to us all) don’t be afraid to share your grief with someone you trust. Talk to your best friend, or your pastor, or a relative. Sharing your feelings while you grieve can be an important part of moving through grief, into acceptance. It can also help you find new routines and patterns that help establish the “new normal” in your life.
We never “get over” the death of someone we love. We learn to live in new ways, and do new things. We hold our beloved dead in our hearts with love that doesn’t die. We always remember them, but as we move through the grieving process, we heal into new ways of living and moving, and even breathing.
Grief is difficult because it brings so many new and different things into our lives. So God, who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, provides for us during our days of grief. While you grieve, hold onto God’s promises for you, and for your beloved dead. God says,
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116.15)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14.13)
And our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, died, buried, and risen from the dead—says this:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God’ and those who hear will live.
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever livers and believes in Me shall never die. (St. John 5.24-25, 11.25-26)
Unfortunately, death is chasing us all. And until Jesus returns in glory, eventually death will catch up to those whom we love, and even to all of us. So in this life, we grieve. As Christians, though, we grieve with hope. These words of St. Paul, written to the church long ago, are just as useful, and hopeful, and helpful to us today and when the Holy Spirit first moved him to write:
I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4.13-17)
As we mark National Grief Awareness Day, may the peace of God’s Word and the promises of Jesus Christ our Lord, lead you through your grief in hope, sustain you in his grace, and bring you, with all the saints, into everlasting life in the New Jerusalem, where grief is no more.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Revelation 21.1-7)
Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly. Amen.
Rev. Keith R. Weise