Summary: Some see grief as something to get over with as quick as possible, but God wants to deepen us through it.
Grief is typically treated as something to be "gotten over with" as soon as possible, or certain things are not seen as worthy of grief. If others were not impacted the same way as you then you have the problem. There doesn’t seem to be any room for people responding differently when it comes to grief.
We are also taught that "real men don’t cry", or "don’t be a baby".
Our culture trivializes tragedy and loss. We watch all the devastation on the evening news, but are just given the facts, but no opportunity to grieve. Children dying of starvation, masses killed by an earthquake or Tsunami SHOULD break our hearts. We should pause to grieve such tragedies.
I. WHAT IS GRIEF?
in 1974 "The Handbook of Psychiatry" defined grief as "...the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death."
In 1984, Dr. Terese Rando---a noted grief specialist, researcher and author---defined grief as "...process of psychological, social and somatic reactions to the perception of loss".
In 1991, the Grief Resource Foundation of Dallas, Texas found that, for them, a good working and practical definition of Grief as "the total response of the organism to the process of change".
Although grieving the death of someone dear to us may be the most universal and most intense grief, it is not the only cause of grief.
So what is grief and what produces it? A helpful equation, which proves itself daily in all instances is: Change=Loss=Grief. (TLC Group, Dallas)
Basically, grief is about coming to terms with the fact that things will never be the same again. Something is lost and is never coming back again. It may be something more obvious or tragic like the death of a family member or friend, divorce; disability; rape, or it may be the more "natural" loss of health, youth, beauty, having kids in the house; infertility, the shattering of a lifelong dream, retirement from work or a position or a sport; moving, leaving home, friend, neighbor or family member moving away; loss of financial wealth, moving, house burning down, loss of valuable due to fire or theft; last child out of infant stage, toddler stage, teenage stage; loss of status
The intensity of the grief depends on how the loss is perceived. If the loss is not perceived as significant, the grief reaction will be minimal or barely felt.
II. PROCESSING GRIEF
What do we do with our grief? The most common response: Avoid, escape, get over, medicate. Yet in John 11 we find Jesus himself weeping over the death of a friend. Why? After all, he knew that he would raise Lazarus within minutes?
"The answer is because He is perfect. He is perfect love. That’s perfect love. He will not close His heart even for ten minutes. He will not refuse to enter in" -- Tim Keller
1. GRIEF IS NOT TO BE AVOIDED BUT ENTERED INTO
We need to accept the reality of the loss and the pain that it brings -to actually cry, weep, express our pain, disappointment, regret. For some of you that might mean going way back or deep down and uncovering the pain you buried a long time ago but never dealt with -- divorce of parents, molestation, loss of innocence, the loss of childhood itself.
Another biblical example is David after Saul and Jonathan die. He writes a song, a poem--a moving, beautiful, detailed lament of the horror that has occurred. "Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen.... Saul and Jonathan, in life they were loved and gracious.... O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul." He will anguish over the catastrophe three times: "How the might warriors have fallen." David, consumed with grief, addresses Jonathan directly, "I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother."
Next David orders the people to memorize and sing a lamentation he had written (2 Samuel 1:17-27). Can you imagine? When Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle, David pours out his grief with tears about the enormous loss Israel now faces. He recognizes that something precious in Israel is gone and will never return.
David ordered that this song of lament be taught to all the men of Judah. He wanted them to learn it, memorize it and sing it, as their experience, not simply his. Why did David force the people to stop and pay attention? Why did he want them to express sorrow over the death of Saul and Jonathan? Wasn’t there a lot of work to do now that there would be a transition to a new government?
"David understood how indispensable grieving is to spiritual maturity. David knew we are deepened by taking the time to grieve our losses before moving on. He knew how important it was for the people to stay connected to reality and not run from their pain." -- Pete Scazzero