A BRIEF PEEK AT GRIEF

We changed our TV service and are getting fewer channels now. My roommate said, “Carolyn, I gotta tell you, I’m really having a problem with getting less channels. I miss not having baseball.” At that moment I realized that the loss of anything is like the death of it and as long as we live on this earth, there’s going to be grief that comes with any loss.

To try to ignore the grief is just as wrong as letting ourselves get trapped in it. It’s better to face the loss head on and admit to it. Different emotional reactions will surface and we have to let them happen. Then when we can, we move on.

Grieving is a universal phenomenon. There’s plenty of studies on sorrow and grief, but there’s still much to be learned about how it works, how long it takes, and the effects it has. The one thing we do know is that it’s a process and it varies with situations and people.

We can see from the Bible different examples of the grieving process. Signs included tearing one’s robe, weeping, having disheveled hair, putting dust and ashes into the hair or shaving the hair or beard. Other indications of sorrow included wearing black or sad-colored clothing, removal of ornaments or neglect of person, fasting or abstinence in meat or drink, and wearing sackcloth. Sackcloth was made of goat or camel hair and was course and uncomfortable. One Bible dictionary said that men were generally more silent in grief and women more vocal and demonstrative.

These were things that exhibited in ancient times, but the grieving process hasn’t really changed much over the years. Just one example I can think of is female friends who’ve done something to change the style or color of their hair after a divorce. I don’t know if it’s even a conscious decision or just part of the inward, inherent grief reaction.

In the Bible, the days of mourning also varied. In the case of Jacob it was 70 days (Gen 50:3). In Saul’s case, only 7 days (1 Sam 31:13). In Moses’ time the official period of grief was 30 days.

When Moses died and the allowable 30 days was over, God told Joshua it was time for him to get up and get going. I think that a lot of times we need someone with insight to help us get going too, to wake us up out of our grief and get us to move on before the sorrow destroys us or makes us morose.

I know I needed a push when my dog Spike passed away. I was so sad I couldn’t see getting a new dog and had convinced myself that I couldn’t get one because of the cat. My friend Miki kept pestering me with pictures of rescue dogs that needed homes and I kept pushing the idea away. Then my roommate Jane rescued a dog from the alley. We made two failed attempts at giving him away and finally got the message: “Keep the dog!” My time of grief was supposed to be over and God was working through insightful people, forcing me to move on.

When God pushed Joshua, it was a new thing for him. Moses was gone and now he had the responsibility to lead God’s people. I’m sure it was a little intimidating. Any time we have to embrace something new, after losing something we loved, it’s hard. But we don’t have to do it alone. God told Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).

When we lose our loved ones, or if we lose our homes, our jobs, our 150 channels, it’s right to grieve those things. It’s good to recognize and face loss head on, then realize the loss has opened up an opportunity to seek and trust the Lord for what will be next.

In Isaiah 48:6 God promises He will show us new things, hidden things that we’ve never known before. “I have shown thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.”

We put our hope in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, that when the grieving process has run its course, there will be something wonderful and new to enjoy. And one of the greatest things we have to look forward to is the day when all grief will be gone.

When Heaven comes, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Rev 21:4). What an amazing and awesome promise to all who have chosen to believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

Love, Carolyn

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