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Grieving Losses
How to Cope and How to Hope

Grieving the loss of a dear friend can be a long, painful process. But there is still hope. 

What is grief? Grief is the term used to describe emotional responses to major losses. Bereavement, grief, and mourning are all terms used to describe the same thing: the intense pain that follows the loss of a loved one.

What do you need to know about grief and grieving? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work through the grieving stages:

1) Working through the stages of grief takes time.

Grieving from a loss and healing from that loss require one to examine and re-examine the place of a loved one or a relationship. This process, the grief stages, of getting used to life without someone close to you can take over a year to work through. Experts have compared the death of a child, for example, to what it feels like to lose a limb. It gets easier to cope as time goes on, but it still takes a long time to work through the stages of grieving.

2) Different people experience the stages of grief differently.

It’s easy to formulate a five-step process for your grief to work through; however, actually working through those stages of grieving proves much more difficult. While there is a method to grief, that method looks different for each person. After all, some steps in the healing process are easier than others—some days are easier than others. Your relationship with your loved one was unique; expect your grieving to be unique.

3) Coping with death allows you to meet really supportive people.

Bereavement requires a grief support group. As you work through the death of a loved one, you need a place where you can vent, where you can be honest about grief and your emotions, and where you can move through the grief stages without fear or regret. A grief support group can provide a really supportive community of friends who identify with you at a very deep level. They can move beyond showing you sympathy to really empathizing with you. They can challenge you to ask the big questions: “What is grief? Will I ever see my loved one again?” The bonds forged by shared experiences are the strongest bonds. And, as you struggle to find meaning in death and dying, realize you’re not alone.

4) The bereavement period can be a good time to embrace your spirituality.

Your time of grief, bereavement, and sadness may be an opportunity for you to return to faith in God or involvement in your religious system. The belief in an afterlife can really ease our minds when it comes to loss of family members or the death of a child—there could be a purpose to grief in your life. Also, churches provide support groups of like-minded people that are willing to walk with you through the stages of grief and grieving.

As long as you’re taking the time to get resources on bereavement, grief, and mourning, why not consider one more source of hope and encouragement? As long as you’re bereaved, why not take a few minutes to talk to God about your pain? 

Finding God and Your Grieving

The Bible is a real, authentic, genuine book-- filled with the stories and thoughts of real people. Whereas some grief-coping strategies may encourage you to deny your grief and try to convince you that your grief is just in your head, the Bible takes a different route. Your grief is real, your pain is actual, and there's still the opportunity for true healing.

Consider the story of David, one of the most prominent authors in the Bible. David was king of a whole nation, a military leader, a wise man, and a gifted songwriter. And yet his life was filled with sorrow: much of his life, he was being chased by a vengeful predecessor who wanted to kill him; his best friend was killed; his son died. And yet in the midst of this pain, David is able to sing out to God:

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. 

What is the hope that propels David through his seasons of grief? David devotes himself to loving and serving God and he finds God to be more than enough for his hurting heart. Want to find the hope that David had? Let God turn your mourning into dancing, too. Grief is hard, but God is bigger than that grief. He wants to comfort you, to sit with you as you mourn, and to carry you through to the other side.

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