Summary: A sermon offering hope in the face of grief
Title: Is There Life after Loss?
Subject: How can we handle grief in a healthy way?
Complement: By allowing Christ’s resurrection to speak hope into our grief.
Preaching idea: There can be life after loss because Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope.
Last Sunday a 14-year-old boy from downtown Toronto, was killed in a car accident while returning from a youth retreat. You can imagine the pain and agony the family is experiencing right now. Grief, is a word all of us know, because death is universal. Even at a wedding, we still mention it, "until death do us part."
In 1994, CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski, at the conclusion of his lament on the untimely death of colleague and journalist Barbara Frum said, "and so we return now to a real but diminished world.” Death creates a diminished world.
The poet Shelley wrote “ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." In other words the death of another affects us all. But at certain moments in life it affects us deeply.
The recent death of Princess Diana led to mass, even worldwide mourning. Author and counsellor Gary Collins once wrote, "mass mourning can develop when a person becomes a symbol of the hopes and fears of many persons.” p. 427 of Gary Collins, Introduction to Counselling.
We were all amazed at the outpouring of grief for Princess Diana---but I think that’s what we would all like when our loved ones die---we want the world to notice--we want the traffic to stop: "Stop a good man has died--don’t you care?"
Last year on August 1st, (1996) a young man I had known very well and had taught when he was just 10, in Sunday School, had a tragic and sudden death. Lauren Searle was just 26 years old, he was driving a truck in the oil fields of Alberta when he lost control of the truck, it flipped over and he and two other friends died at the scene. He was a personal friend and his Dad, though we live far apart, is still is a good friend to me. Lauren himself was in my Junior Boys Sunday School Class. I still have pictures of him smiling for a class picture. When I heard of the death, I called the grief-stricken father to express my sympathies and prayers. It was a very sad conversation. He said Fred, I can be in the mall or walking down the street, and see a young man, laughing, hanging with his friends, and I’ll think . . . that should be my son. But he’s gone. He used to phone me every week from Alberta, often twice a week. That phone call will never come again.
Grief is painful and many of us know that all too well. There are other forms of grief too. A broken marriage can cause deep felt grief. Being fired from your work is a grief experience. "You’re through," clean out your desk . . . life is turned upside down.
Grief will come in many forms but the most difficult is the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one.
Alice Matthews, of Radio Bible Class, defines grief as "the price we pay for loving."
Lets read from John 11:1-45 (selected verses concluding with verse 35)
I. TO HANDLE GRIEF IN A PROPER WAY WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE REALITY OF GRIEF:
We all know that death is universal, and so grief is too. It is all around us, and it will come up in even routine conversations. Just this past week, while driving to Kingston to attend a conference, a gentleman I had known only very casually, began to talk about his first wife and his second wife. Within a few minutes I learned that just five years ago his first wife had died of cancer. I began to ask him about the grief and the pain he endured as he saw his loving wife slip away. Death is not a subject we like to talk about but there is the reality of grief.
Counsellors’ tell us there are three stages in the grieving process.
First there is the crisis stage. We get the awful news, and its as if we go into shock. We might deny it, we may cry, we may scream. But we are in emotional distress. Our world has suddenly fallen apart. This most painful stage of grief usually lasts a few days.
Second, in what some call the crucible stage, we begin to deal with the tragedy of death. Anger often will arise, toward a drunk driver, toward the hospital team, toward yourself, even toward God--why did you let this happen? There can be guilt and deep depression, and an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Third, there is the stage of rebuilding our lives, the construction stage.